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VOL. 3. • JULY 1901. NO. 3. 

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The Practical Farmer's Library is a new departure along new lines in agricul- 
tural journalism. Started January ist, 1899, it instantly sprang into popularity. 
Its plan, briefly, is a Year Book and Agricultural Almanac, published January 
ist of each year, followed by three other numbers during the year, especially pre- 
pared for the farmer and his family for their daily use and reference. The size 
and shape of the numbers are handy for preservation and a complete alphabetical 
index in each volume puts the contents of each at the reader's finger ends. The 
practical and useful character of the Library is well illustrated by this number. 
It is gotten up along the lines which practical experience has indicated, will best 
serve the daily needs of the soil tiller. The four numbers of the year give a 
mass of information which cannot be found in any other publication, and in just 
the shape where it is most readily assimilable by the reader. 

The Farmer Co., publishers, 


We will send the Pr&ctical Farmer's Library 
&.nd the Prdwctic&.l TzKriner both one ye^s 
ior only 52.00. 






With Special Reference to the Practical Methods of Using Commercial 

Fertilizers Therein. 


Member of the National Geographic Society, Vice President of the North Carolina 

Horticultural Society, Processor of Horticulture and Vegetable Biology, North 

Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, Raleigh, N. C. 

/ JULY, I90I 

/■ — -' 
Jo. 3. Vol. 3. THE PRACTICAL FARMERS' LIBRARY, Published Quarterly by 

The Farmer Company Philadelphia. 
Subscription, $2.00 per Year. Single Copies, 50 Cents 



Two Copits Received 

AUG. 2 1901 

^^J«/^-~-U,^ It »C\ Ot 


Entered aocorrilng to Act of Congress in li»()I, by 

TllK FAKlIFjR»l'Ot ... ,.• • 

iu llie l^iljiary of CongresVat.WastUigi'cJnt'ti C'. 

Entered as second-class matter at post office 


This book is the result of an effort to put into the plain language of the farm 
the facts which scientists have worked out in the laboratory, and which practical 
experience has proved to be applicable to the every day work of the farm. It is 
written for men who know nothing of chemistry, but who are anxious to learn 
something of the chemical combinations that are of value in the feeding of crops, 
and the best way to use them in the permanent improvement of their soil. For 
men who know nothing of the mysteries of plant life, but who are anxious to learn 
how plants live, grow and perform all their work in soil and air, so that they may 
be better able to comprehend their needs, and supply them in a rational manner. 

While endeavoring to make the book scientifically accurate in all its statements 
I have tried to avoid all pedantry, but to make the whole so plain that the "way- 
faring man, though a fool, need not err." I have undertaken the work with 
a good deal of misgiving as to what should be its exact position on some of the 
problems in nature as yet not fully solved, and about which there is much yet 
to be learned by the wisest minds. When such problems are attempted, I will 
candidly say that I do not as yet fully comprehend the processes involved, I will 
give the results so far as they are known. The acquirement of nitrogen 
by leguminous plants is one of the problems that has not yet been fully worked 
out, and while we know that they do get the nitrogen through the agency of 
minute organisms that live with them on their roots, the exact process by which 
these microscopic forms get the nitrogen is not yet fully understood. But for our 
purpose it is enough to know that they do get it and store it in the roots and soil 
for the future crop. 

N. C. College of A. &. M. A., 

Raleigh, N. C. 



Preface 5 

Introduction 11-16 

Chapter I.— The Air 17 

How green leaved plants get food from the air. — How plants get food 
from the soil.— The course of the soil-water in the plant. 

Chapter II.— The Growth of a Seed 24 

The flower. — The fruit. 

Chapter TIT. — Plant Brooding 28 

Improving the cotton plant. — cotton breeding. 

Chapter TV.— The Soil 40 

Living soils and dead soils. — How to determine what the soil needs. 

Chapter V.— Plant Food 4fi 

Chapter VI. — Sources of Fertilizing Materials 48 

Sources of nitrogen.— Barnyard and stable manures. — No need for 
buying nitrogen. — Leguminous plants the true source of nitrogen for 
the farmer. 

Chapter VII. — Phosphorus, Its Sources and Use in Plant Feeding 01 

Bone meal as a source of phosphoric acid. — Thomas slag, slag meal, 
basic slag as a source of phosphoric acid. — Marls as a source of phos- 
phoric acid. — Phosphatic guano. — The great phosphate rock deposits. 
— Some erroneous popular names. — The value of insoluble phasphates. 


Contents 7 

Chapter Vlll.— Potash 70 

Potash as essential plant food. — Soils which need potash most. — 
What is the best form of potash? — Crude potash salts. — Manufac- 
tured potash salts. — Capacity of the soil for absorbing potash. — 
Dangers from potash. — Potash in waste products. — Cotton seed hull 
ashes. — Green sand marl. 

Chapter IX. — Lime and Liming Land 77 

Sulphate of lime from plaster. — Gas house lime. — Sulphate of lime as 
a waste product. — Agricultural salt. — Shell marls. — Tan bark ashes. 
— Swamp muck or peat. 

Chapter X. — Mixing Fertilizers on the Farm 85 

How to mix fertilizers. 

Chapter XL — The Maintenance of Fertility D-i 

Using fertilizers in continuous cropping. — Why a short I'otation is 
best. — Some of the mistakes made. 

Chapter XIL — How to Use Commercial Fertilizers for the Maintenance 

of Fertility 102 

The rotation for the cotton crop. — What is the best rotation for cot- 
ton? — Curing the pea vine hay. — Resting the land. — Another cotton 

Chapter XITL — Where Winter Wheat is the Money Crop 130 

Rotations for the winter wheat crop. — Fertilizers for wheat. — What 
a crop of wheat removes from the soil. — Thorough preparation of the 
soil as important as fertilizers for wheat. — Green manuring for wheat. 
— Wheat after a hoed crop. 

Chapter XIV. — Fertilizers for the Permanent Pasture 133 

Grasses for permanent pasture. 

Chapter XV. — Fertilizers Where Hay is the Money Crop 137 

Farming for hay. 

Chapter XVI. — Where To1)acco is the Money Crop 141 

Forms of fertilizers for tobacco. 

Chapter XVII. — Fertilizers for the Corn Crop 14() 

How shall we utilize the corn crop as a food crop? — The silo and en- 
silage. — Making the ensilage. — The feeding value of ensilage. — Ma- 
nure from ensilage feeding. — Shredding the fodder from corn crop. 

Chapter XVIIL— Testing the Needs of the Soil 154 

8 Contents ' 

CiiAPTEU XXXIl. — Lettuce 223 

Culture of frame lettuce in the South. — Lettuce in the open ground. 
— The manurial requirements of lettuce. — Varieties of lettuce. 

Chapter XXXIII.— Melons 228 

Muskmelons. — Watermelons. 

Chapter XXXIV.— Onions 331 

Growing the sets. — Early green onions in the South. — The general 
crop of onions. — Varieties for keeping. — Another method of growing 
onions. — Fertilizers for the onion crop. 

Chapter XXXV. — English, or Garden, Peas 337 

Chapter XXXVI.— Irish Potaotes 238 

Soils for the potato crop. — Manurial requirements of the potato. — 
Potatoes as a field crop in the North. — Cultivation. — Early potatoes 
in the South. — Fertilizing the Southern early crop. — Growing seed 
potatoes in the South. Potatoes in the home garden. — Varieties of . 

potatoes. — Do potatoes run out? — Some Station investigations of . — ' 

Po"tato culture and manuring. 

Chapter XXXVII. — Sweet Potatoes 35.") 

Manuring for the sweet potato crop. — Growing the plants. — Cultiva- 
tion of the sweet potato. — Planting the late crop in the South. — Har- 
vesting sweet potatoes. — Keeping sweet potatoes in winter. — Con- 
struction of a potato house. — Sweet potatoes North and South. — Varie- 
ties of the sweet potatoes.— Evaporating sweet potatoes. — Yields of 
sweet potatoes from large and small tubers. 

Chapter XXXVIII.— Tomatoes 364 

Growing the plants. — Fertilizing the tomato crop. — The field crop 
of tomatoes. — Southern blight. — Varieties of tomatoes. — Forcing 
tomatoes in winter. — Shall tomatoes be pruned in the open 
ground.— The forcing house for tomatoes. — Commercial fertilizers In 
tomato forcing. — Further reports on chemical fertilizers in forcing 

Chapter XXXIX. — Some Special Formulas for Truck Crops 38 1 

For celery. — For Irish potatoes. — For beets and lettuce. — For cab 
bages, cauliflowers, cucumbers and melons. — For spinach.— For 
radishes and turnips.— For asparagus. — For egg plants and tomatoes. 
— For onions. — For sweet potatoes.- — For beans and peas. i 

Chapter XL. — Some Station Investipitions of Fertilizers 381 

Rhode Island potato formulas. — Proposed formula for oniuns. — Rhode 
Island formula for general purposes. — A compost with hen manure. — 
Formula for corn on a sandy soil. — Formula for millet and Hun- 
garian. — Formula for barley. — Formula for spinach, lettuce, etc. — 
Chemical action of lime. — Bio-chemical effects oi lime. — When to 
apply lime. — Improvement of worn lands. 

Contents 9 

CiiAi'TKU XIX.— The Restoration of Worn Out Land 158 

Chapter XX. — How Legumes Help the Farmer 161 

Nitrification in general. — Talking free nitrogen from the air through 
plant growth. — Nitrification of organic matter in soils. — Conditions 
essential to the formation of nitrates in the soil. — Nitrification and 
its products. — Nitrates are easily drained from the soil. — Crops which 
prevent loss of nitrogen. — Nitrogen fixing crops and their place in a 

Chapter XXL — The Best Leguminous Phmts 168 

Red clover. — The place for clover in a rotation. — Crimson clover. — 
Cow peas. — Vetches. — Burr clover. — The soy bean. — The velvet bean. 
— The peanut. — Varieties of the peanut. — Alfalfa. — Forage plants not 
leguminous. — Millets. — Teosinte. — Kaffir corn. 

Chapter XXI L — Some Minor Crops 185 

Oats. — Soiling crops. — Crops for hogs to gather. 

Chapter XXI II. — Commercial Fertilizers and the Market Garden. . . , .193 

Complete fertilizers essential to the garden crops. — Home mixing 
essential to the market gardener. 

Chapter XX IV. — Asparagus 106 

Growing the plants. — Preparing for the permanent plantation. 

Chaptei{ XXV.— Beans in the Market Garden 300 

Lima beans. — Forcing snap beans. 

Chapter XXVL— Cahbages 203 

Succession, or summer cabbages. — Late cabbages. — Late cabbages in 
the South. 

Chapter XXVI L— Cauliflower 308 

Early cauliflowers in the South. — Cauliflower seed and varieties. 

Chapter XXVIIL— Corn 311 

Chapter XXIX.— Celery 313 

Methods of culture. — Other methods of blanching celery. — Fertilizers 
for the celery crop. — Varieties of celery. 

Chapter XXX. — Cucumbers 318 

Varieties of cucumbers. — Fertilizers for the cucumber crop. — Starting 
cucumbers under glass to advance them. 

Chapter XXXL — Egg Plants 331 

Varieties of egg plants. — Fertilization. 

10 Contents 

CiiAi'TKU XLI. — Frauds in Fortilizors 298 

The man v/ith a secret. 

Chaptku XLIl. — The Strawberry as a Field Crop 306 

Manurial requirements of the strawberry. — Fertilizer formula for the 
strawberry. — Forcing the strawberry. 

CiiAiTEK XLI 1 1. — BIaekl)erries and Raspberries 310 

Blackberries and raspberries. — Manurial needs of black and raspber- 
ries. — Propagating the plants. 

Chapter XLIY. — Fertilizers in the A^ineyard and Orchard 313 

Feeding the apple orchard. — Planting an apple orchard.— Starting the 
trees.— Cultivating and cropping the orchard. — Analysis of the apple 
tree and its products. 

Chapter XLV.— The Pear 320 

Feeding the pear. 

Chapter XLVI. — Peaches, Plums and Cherries 325 

Planting a peach orchard. — Feeding the peach. — -The plum. — Cherries. 

Chapter XLVIT.— The Grape 333 

Propagation of the grape. 

Chaptei! Xr;VI]I.— Gardening Under Glass 336 

Winter lettuce.— Lettuce in cold frames. — Making the frames. — Soil 
and planting.— Cauliflower and lettuce combined.— Radishes and beets 
in frames. — Cold frame culture in more northern sections. — Frame 
culture of winter flowers in frames. — Frames for the commercial 
florist in the South. — Propagating tender roses in the South. — Prop- 
agating hardy roses in frames North. — Asparagus in cold frames. — 
Strawberries in frames. — Importnnc^ of water in intensive garden- 
ing. — Hotbeds. — The forcing house. 

Chapter XLIX. — Some General Conclusions 3G2 

Appendi.x 373 

Useful tables. — Constituents of forage plants per acre. — Ashes.— 
Percentage of the availability of the different forms of nitrogen. — 
What crops remove from the soil. — Analysis of the fertilizer and 
fertilizer materials. — Amount and value of manure produced by dif- 
ferent farm animals. — Food constituents of different parts of the 
peanut plant. 


The only excuse I have to offer for the manner in which this book presents the 
subject of crop growing and crop feeding, is the fact that there is so mucli of 
ignorance, even among men nominally educated, in regard to the vital processes 
in plant life. I meet men daily, who have taken college degrees and are in 
professional life, who still think that the sap rises in the trees in the spring and 
runs down in the fall; that is about all they know of plant life, and even that 
little is not true. They have never studied plant life in an intelligent manner, 
for in all of the old college curriculums botany has been rigorously ignored, or 
even if attempted, it was only a little spring time study and a brief effort to learn 
the scientific names by which the plants are called; the main effort was merely 
to do this, and the result was that the student knew no more about the wonderful 
life of the plants around him than he did before. Hence educated men, or rather 
men crammed with the information of the books, fall into all sorts of errors and 
believe all sorts of old wives' fables about plants. A very intelligent gentleman 
who is interested in some phosphatic rock mines in this State, told me once that 
the rock they mined was more soluble than ordinary phosphatic rock because 
of the heavy forest growth above the deposit, for the sap running out from the 
roots of the trees in the fall had a solvent effect on the rock below. This man 
has traveled all over Europe and America, and has a large fund of general infor- 
mation, and no argument I could use would convince him that no sap runs from the 
trees in the fall. Late one fall a few years ago a reader of one of our city papers 
wrote an inquiry to the editor, saying that he had noticed that just before a rain 
the springs and brooks had swelled, and he wanted to know the reason. The 
editor, a college bred man, told him that the explanation was perfectly simple, 
as at that season the sap was running out of the tree roots and raised the springs. 
He never seemed to think of the real reason, the release of atmospheric pressure 
just before a rain. 1 wrote to the paper and told him that there was no such thing 
as sap running out of the roots of the trees, and entered into some explanation of 
the processes of plant life. It was amusing after my letter was published, to note 
the surprise with which it was received. Educated men stopped me on the street 
and asked if it was really true that the sap does not run out of the roots, and 
that all plants get the larger part of their fabric from the air and not from the soil. 


12 Introduction. 

This same general ignorance in regard to plant life is the cause of so many 
otherwise intelligent men believing that one plant can be suddenly transformed 
into an entirely different one. That wheat will change to chess or cheat. Men 
who have studied the life history of vegetation know the utter absurdity of this 
notion, but it is so firmly fixed in the minds of many intelligent men that it is 
perfectly useless to argue with them. They have never been taught accuracy of 
observation in their youth, and hence jump to conclusions that are not warranted 
by the facts. Some months ago a farmer in this State wrote me a letter, asking 
if there was any premium offered by the Agricultural Department of the State for 
the positive proof that wheat would turn to cheat. I answered that there was no 
such offer, and I knew there was no such proof. A friend of mine, a leading 
lawyer of the writer's neighborhood, then wrote to me that I had treated his friend 
rather curtly, for he knew that he had the positive proof, and he would send it to 
me. Accordingly a few days after I received a package containing a well grown 
plant of cheat with numerous wheat grains adhering to the tips of the rootlets. 
I wrote to the lawyer that if this was what he called proof, he would have to 
learn to sift evidence better or his reputation as a lawyer would suffer. The fact 
that dead wheat grains were attached to the feeding tips of the rootlets of the 
cheat, was simply proof that the wheat decayed and the roots of the cheat found 
the grains and were feeding on them. If the cheat had really germinated from the 
wheat, the grains would never have been found on the place where the absorptive 
root hairs were foraging for food, but would have been right up where they 
started from, and that what he regarded as positive proof of the transformation 
of wheat into cheat was, on the other hand, a positive proof that no such change 
had taken place, for the roots were simply seeking food, and the weather con- 
ditions that killed the wheat were just the kind that were favorable to the 
development of the hardy cheat, which never winter kills. It is with the hope 
that a study in a simple manner of some of the processes of plant life will help to 
banish superstitions, and will be the means of some of our readers getting a better 
understanding of the reasons that underlie the culture of our crops, and the sup- 
plying of them with food. We have made the effort to avoid, as far as possible, 
language that might confuse the unlearned, and to clothe facts in the every day 
language of the farm so far as possible. 

It will be noticed that we state that 95 per cent, or more of every plant comes 
from the air, and not from the soil, and we endeavor to explain how the plant gets 
the material from the air. But to see in a practical way how much of a plant 
comes from the air, take a good sized corn stalk and weigh it. Now cut it up and 
dry it thoroughly. Not merely air-dry, but dry it as a chemist would dry it in 
his dry bath. Now weigh it again, and you find that it contained a great deal 
of water. Now burn it carefully and completely, till you have only white ashes 
left. You will find that these weigh but a trifle as compared with the great corn 
plant. And yet that little handful of ashes contains all the plant got from the 
soil except the nitrogen, and that the soil originally got from the air. The 
mineral matters, or ash elements, are what you have left in the ashes. The rest 
was carbon and water, and it has gone off in the shape in which the plant originally 
got it, as carbonic acid, to feed other plants and make other structures, for there is 
no destruction in nature. The same old materials are being used over and over 

Introduction. 13 

again, perpetually building up new forms. In regard to the nature of commercial 
fertilizers, there is a general notion among farmers that they are mere stimulants, 
and that while they can be used to increase crops, their final effect is to exhaust 
the soil. The injudicious way in which commercial fertilizers have been used in 
the Eastern Middle States, and in the Southern States, has led to this opinion. 
Used as they have been in the past by the cotton and tobacco growers of the South, 
they have been a curse to the country, and have led to poverty of soil and poverty 
to the farmer. 

But this is not the fault of the commercial fertilizer, for well prepared fer- 
tilizers are simply plant food, such as we find in any manure; and if properly used 
for the improvement of the soil, they can be made the means of restoring and 
maintaining the fertility of our lands more efficiently and cheaply than in any 
other manner. The only classes of substances used as applications to the soil 
to which the term stimulant can be properly applied are lime and plaster. These 
are used not so much for their value as plant food, but for their effects in ren- 
dering other matters, notably potash, available in the soil. They thus stimulate 
the soil to give up to plants matters it already has, and thus gradually tend 
to the exhaustion of these things if carelessly used, with the notion that lime and 
plaster will make land rich because we see a good effect from their application. 
There are extensive districts in the North, where once the farmers got large crops 
from the use of plaster alone, and imagining that plaster was all they needed, 
they kept on in its application, and now find that there is nothing more for the 
plaster to give them and are compelled to use commercial fertilizers liberally. 
Had they known more of the real work the plaster was doing for them they could 
have avoided the gradual exhaustion of the mineral elements in their soil. But 
there are some writers who would persuade the farmer that in the use of com- 
mercial fertilizers alone they have all that is needed, and that land can be kept 
perennially fertile simply by giving every crop a liberal application of a complete 
fertilizer. They beg us, when we urge the farmer to adopt a good rotation of 
crops in which the legumes are brought frequently to accumulate humus in the 
soil, to "give humus a rest," insisting that humus is not plant food, and that crops 
can be grown as well without it as with it. It may be that in a season of very 
favorable weather and abundance of moisture in the soil, the commercial fertilizers 
will have their best effects, even if there is no humus or vegetable decay present. 
But in a season like the one we have just passed through, we have found in late 
October, in a soil deficient in humus, all the fertilizer applied in the furrow, as dry 
as it was when applied. Not two hundred feet away was land in which the humus 
content was much greater, and here the plants had gotten the dissolved plant food, 
because of the superior mosture-retaining nature of the decayed vegetable matter. 
Therefore, even if this decay furnished us no nitrogen, it would still be valuable 
for its mechanical effects in making the soil mellow, and in its power of retaining 
moisture for the plants. What we try to impress upon our readers in this book, 
above all else, is the fact that the true use of the commercial fertilizer is the main- 
tenance and increase of the fertility and productiveness of the soil, and not so 
much for the immediate returns in sale crops. True farming does not consist 
in the dosing of the soil for every crop with a prescription some land doctor 
advises as a specific for that crop, but in so using these valuable plant foods in the 

14 Introduction. 

improvement of the soil tliat there will be no need in any of our ordinary farm 
cropping for the use of what is called a complete fertilizer at any time, and 
seldom any need for an application directly to the sale crop. Used in this way, 
there is no doubt that the fertility of the soil can be restored and maintained 
more cheaply and more rapidly by the use of commercial fertilizers than in any 
other way, though no farmer should wholly ignore the foundation of all rational 
farm improvement, the keeping and feeding of live stock in the best manner, and 
the making and saving in the most careful manner all the domestic manures. The 
deplorable condition of much of the cotton land in the South is due, not only to 
the injudicious use of commercial fertilizers as a means of getting sale crops, but 
to the entire abandonment of stock feeding by the cotton farmers. The annual 
cultivation of the soil in the one clean cultivated crop has used up the humus and 
none goes there, because there are no animals fed to make manure and no renovat- 
ing crops between the cotton crops, and when a dry season comes, the fertilizers 
applied are not dissolved and the crops are poor. The season of 1900 was remark- 
able as the hottest and dryest on record in the South Atlantic States, and the 
lands without fertilizer did as well or better than those directly fertilized. But 
recently, meeting a ^farmer whom I knew was farming in a short rotation with 
legumes, I asked him about his cotton crop. "I expected to get 40 bales on 35 
acres. The drought has affected me some, and I will have hardly more than 35 
bales." All around this man's farm there are those who will hardly get a bale 
on five acres, and they spent more for fertilizers on their crop than he did, who 
gets a bale pejyacre. It is, therefore, with the earnest hope that we can induce 
farmers NortH and South, to understand the true use of commercial fertilizers 
that this book has been prepared. We have written it from the standpoint of the 
practical farmer, and have prepared it for practical farmers. 

While living in the South, a native of the South, and striving with all my 
energy to aid in the building up of the agricultural and horticultural interests 
of the southern cultivators of the soil, the writer has had a wide experience in the 
growing of plants and crops in various sections, and has traveled and studied the 
practices 6f growers in all parts of the country. He therefore feels that he is 
prepared (to help farmers in various sections, and to contribute something, at 
least, to tne general advancement. The great interest that has been awakened in 
regard to agricultural education is well shown by the great increase of books on 
agricultural topics. Formerly the effort was to treat of the whole subject of agri- 
culture and farm economy in a single small volume, and our libraries still contain 
some of those little books. In the organization of our Colleges of Agriculture and 
Mechanic Arts the greatest difficulty that beset the faculty in these institutions was 
the total absence of books on agriculture and horticulture that could be used 
as text books with the college classes. The result was that every professor was 
compelled to prepare his own lectures and to conduct the instruction along lines 
devised from time to time to meet the emergency. Out of this work there have 
grown up books in which various parts of scientific cropping are treated, and there 
is no longer any effort made to combine in one small volume all the matters that 
relate to cropping, stock breeding and feeding, farm drainage and soil manipula- 
tion; but the soil and its treatment and cropping have come to be considered as 
something separate and distinct from the animal husbandry of the farm. While 

Introduction. 15 

in a work of this kind methods of soil preparation and culture are of necessity 
treated, to some extent, the chief aim of the book will be to make plain so far as 
has been ascertained, the methods of supplying the manurial needs of crops, and 
especially to endeavor to do something towards encouraging a more judicious use 
of the commercial fertilizers than is common among farmers. Few northern 
farmers fully realize to what extent the southern farmer has come to rely upon 
commercial fertilizers for every crop he plants. And it is important that in the 
interest that is now being taken in the Central West in the use of commercial 
fertilizers, that the farmers be protected from making the mistakes that have 
proved disastrous to the southern farmer, and that they should be taught in the 
beginning of their use of these fertilizers, where and how they may be made 
profitable, and how to avoid the dangers of soil wasting that have followed hard 
upon the use of commercial fertilizers in the cotton states. The poorest farmers 
ond the best farmers use commercial fertilizers. The first-class dribbles them 
in small quantity under his sale crop, solely for the purpose of getting a little 
more to sell; the second class uses them in a far more liberal manner for the pur- 
pose of building up the soil and the development of its natural capacity. The 
first class of farmers simply use enough to add a little to what the land would do 
unaided, and thus get what the soil would do and all that the fertilizer did, and 
the result is that the soil is in a worse condition by reason of the application; and 
it is no wonder that the men who use these forms of plant food in this way have 
come to the conclusion that they are only stimulants. The greatest educational 
influence of late years among farmers who have passed the years when they could 
have attended a college, has been the Farmers' Institutes. When these Institutes 
were first inaugaurated farmers as a class knew little about the chemistry of the 
fertilizers they used, and regarded that the best which smelled the worst. Since 
the Institutes and the Grange have been getting in their work there has been a 
wonderful change in this respect, and the farmer who does not know something 
about the chemical composition of the fertilizers he uses, and the nature of the 
elements entering into them, is as rare as one who did know these things was 
at one time. These educational influences have also brought about a change 
in other respects. Farmers, as a class, have now a greater respect for what 
they formerly ridiculed as "book farming," and today it is only the grossly 
ignorant among the farmers who fail to realize what scientific study and investi- 
gation have done for the farmer. Another educational influence that has been 
brought to bear upon the farmer is the Agricultural Experiment Station. The 
whole modern system of spraying for the prevention of fungous diseases in plants 
and to ward off the attacks of noxious insects, has been brought about through 
the work of the Experiment Stations, and on no subject of interest to the farmer 
have the Stations devoted more attention than to the study of the various forms 
of plant food sold as fertilizers, their composition and value. Before the 
inauguration of these Stations the farmer was at the mercy of the compounder 
of fertilizers, and had no means for ascertaining their real value. With the in- 
auguration of the Experiment Stations and their analyses of these mixtures came 
the passage of stricter laws regulating the sale of fertilizers and protecting not 
only the farmer, but the honest fertilizer manufacturer, from the frauds that 
were formerly so common. The result of all these influences is that farmers who 

16 Introduction. 

never had the advantages of a scientific training have been taught to understand 
what is necessary in a good fertilizer, and are rapidly learning that they can 
make these mixtures themselves as easily as to buy them ready mixed, and can 
save money in so doing. Then, too, the result of the publication of the analyses 
of commercial fertilizers has had the effect of driving from the market inferior 
articles and of improving the general standard of the factory-made fertilizers, 
and in States having a good and well enforced fertilizer control, the farmers are 
now protected from rogues, and the honest manufacturers are not compelled to 
compete with them. We have urged the home mixing of fertilizers upon our 
farmers, not from any antagonism to the manufacturers of fertilizers, but because 
we know that in the thoughtless purchase of ready mixed articles, growers are 
continually buying what they do not need to buy, and getting mixtures poorly 
adapted to their soil and crops, though they may be manufactured with perfect 
accuracy and honesty. No one mixture will suit all parts of the same farm, or 
all the crops grown upon it, and the farmer will thus be compelled to buy 
various brands in order to get what he needs. But if he buys the materials and 
mixes them to suit his soils and crops he can buy the whole in larger quantity and 
at a lower price. The fact has more than once been demonstrated at the Experi- 
ment Stations, that one may buy at retail the various materials that enter into a 
commercial fertilizer, and save money from the price he would have to pay for 
factory mixed goods. This book, being written by a farmer, for the benefit of 
farmers, will advocate what its author believes to be the best interest of the farmer, 
without regard to what others may think of what we write. It will, as I have 
said, treat the subject of cropping and feeding crops from the standpoint of the 
practical farmer in full sympathy with the work of scientific investigation. 

Having been more or less connected with the practical carrying out of Station 
investigations in agriculture and horticulture, since the foundation of the P^xperi- 
ment Stations, the author of this book has had exceptional opportunities for study 
and observation; and these apportunities, added to his long experience as a 
practical cultivator of the soil in farm, garden and greenhouse, enables him to 
write with some confidence for the benefit of those who, like him, are endeavoring 
to win bread from the soil. The original design was simply to make the work a 
reference book on the use of fertilizers for the general farmer. But it is difficult 
to write of the use of fertilizers without going somewhat into details of cultural 
methods; and then, too, the market gardener, the orchardist, the florist and the 
winter forcer of products under glass, are all interested in the use of commercial 
fertilizers. Hence the idea of the work has grown so as to include some of the 
work of each, and our hope is that all will find it a valuable book of reference. 
So far as the garden crops and the work under glass are concerned, special 
attention is paid to the needs of the market gardeners of the South Atlantic 
and Southern States, since the work of the gardener in the North will be more 
fully discussed by those actually engaged in the business there. 



All plants and animals pass their lives at the bottom of the great ocean 
of air that surrounds the earth. From this air plants derive by far the 
greater part of their substance. Pure air is a mixture of two invisible gases, 
nitrogen and oxygen. The nitrogen is for the purpose of diluting the oxygen 
so that animals can breathe it. But the two gases are not combined with 
each other. The nitrogen is called free nitrogen because it is perfectly free 
from any combination with other elements, but in order that plants can use 
it it must become so combined. But of this later. We have said that plants 
derive the greater part of their substance from the air. In fact about 95 
per cent, of every plant comes from the air, or to speak more correctly, from 
matters that exist as an impurity in the air. For while pure air is composed 
of the two gases mentioned, there are ahvays more or less of other gases in it, 
not as essential parts of the air for animal life, but as impurities and detri- 
mental to animals. But with plants the case is very different. One of the 
impurities in the air is the gas called, commonly, carbonic acid, and which 
is known to the chemist as carbon-di-oxide ; that is, it consists of two parts 
of oxygen associated and combined with one part of carbon. This carbon- 
di-oxide is the gas that accumulates in old wells and mines and makes what 
is called choke damp, so deadly to animal life. But there is always a minute 
portion of it in the air everywhere, and while an excess is damaging to animal 
life a small portion is essential to the welfare of all plants that make green 


All growth in plants and animals alike, is made by the increase in number 
and the development of certain microscopic boxes known as cells. A very 
thin cross section of a piece of the pith of the elder will show the primary 


]8 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

structure of plant cells under a glass of small magnifying power. There are 
many plants of minute size existing in water that, during all their lives, con- 
sist of but a single box or cell. Then advancing in complexity we find these 
cells strung together in threads, then in flat surfaces in a single layer, and 
finally arranged in numerous forms circling around the stem of the plant 
to make up the structure. We are so accustomed to look upon a tree as an 
individual existence that it is hard to realize that it is really a great com- 
munity of individuals, each doing its work in the way it was set out to do 
in the beginning and never making any mistake about it. It is hard to realize 
too, that the framework of the great oak is a lifeless thing, around which 
life circles in a myriad of forms, while it has entirely abandoned its finished 
work, and that the central heart wood takes no part whatever in the vital 
functions of the tree, but is merely the mechanical support of the army of 
builders which, year after year, add thickness to its stem and wider spread 
to its branches. This heart may entirely decay and the tree become hollow, 
and the life still continue to circle around it. 

Hence it is important to know more of the structure and functions of 
plants in order to fully understand their needs. We have said that all growth 
is made by the multiplication of these little box-like cells. The tree grows 
like a building, in which brick after brick is placed in the walls. But in 
the case of the plant the brick maker and the mason live inside the brick. 
The walls of the cells contain no life, but are the result of the vital forces 
contained within them. Every plant cell in its growing state is filled with the 
substance that carries life with it. This substance has been given the name 
of protoplasm, or the first thing formed. It is a clear semi-fliiid substance, 
partly granular and partly transparent, and uniform in its appearance. This 
substance, resembling the white of an egg more than anything else, does 
all the work of the plant, and it is what in the composition of the plant is 
called by chemists the albumenoid or protein part. It is itself entirely 
formless, and yet this formless substance controls the shape of the cell that 
encloses it, and makes the wonderful variety of forms of cells that we find in 
the plant by the aid of our microscopes, and little by little builds up the form 
of the plant, always with an unerring accuracy, so that the final result is such 
that we recognize the plant as belonging to a certain genus and species, 
though it may be, and probably is, in some minor points unlike every other 
plant, even of the same species. 

But as to the essential features, the protoplasm never makes any mistake. 
The oak may grow beside the pine, and their roots interlock and feed upon the 
same substances in the soil, while their tops are bathed in the same sunlight. 
But the oak never by any chance makes a pine cell, nor the pine an oak cell ; 

The Air— 19 

though no one can discern any difference in the living matter of the two. 
Each follows the laws of its inheritance, and obeys the order set out for it in 

I have said that this living matter inside the plant cells is partly of a 
granular nature. Some of these grains are colored green, and thus give us 
the green color of vegetation. This green color is a very important matter, 
for without it there could be no growth. We may put a plant in darkness 
and blanch the leaves white, and then examine the grains under the micro- 
scope and we find that they are still there, but the green color is gone, and the 
plant stops growing. It is evident then that the green is of importance to the 
growth of the plant. It is, in fact, the substance that enables the plant to get 
the food it needs from the carbon-di-oxide in the air. 

Every leaf has on its surface a mutitude of small valves, opening and 
closing like a pair of lips, and they are really the mouths through which it 
takes in food. These mouths are far more plentiful on the under sides of 
leaves than on the upper, and in some plants there are none at all in the upper 
surface. The interior of the leaf is made up of a loose aggregation of cells 
containing the green granules. The mouths open in among the spaces be- 
tween these loosely arranged cells, and thus bring the air to the interior of 
the leaf. When the sun is shining, and at no other time, these mouths in 
the leaf are wide open. The air enters the leaf laden with the carbon-di-oxide. 
If the temperature around is proper for the growth of that particular plant, 
the green matter at once decomposes the carbon-di-oxide, separating the car- 
bon from the oxygen. The oxygen is then thrown off to purify the air, and 
the carbon is retained by the plant. We do not know that this identical 
oxygen is that which is thrown off, but we do know from experiment that the 
same amount of oxygen is thrown off as was combined with the carbon. 

Now in the wonderful laboratory of the green leaf, begins the work of the 
living matter. From the roots water has been brought up to the leaves, in 
which is dissolved the various forms of plant food that come from the soil. 
As it comes from the roots it is merely water with plant food dissolved in it. 
With this water, and the carbon that has been gotten from the air through the 
leaf mouths, the living matter goes to work to prepare food for its own suste- 
nance, and to make the materials out of which it builds its cell walls, and 
thickens their woody structure. The first thing formed from the carbon, 
hydrogen and oxygen, is probably some form of sugar for the immediate use 
of the plant. But the living matter works rapidly, and makes more material 
than it can use at once, either for food or building walls, and hence it has to 
store the reserve material. This reserve material is the first thing we can dis- 
cover in the leaf, and it is starch. When starch is made in the leaf it is soon 

20 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

carried away and stored for future use, unless at once needed to build walls 
with. It is stored in roots, in underground tubers like the Irish potato, and 
in stems generally, and in seeds. The surplus over what the plant needs for 
its existence, forms what animals consume as food. In some seeds, the starch 
is further transformed into oil for preservation. Now neither starch nor oil 
are direct plant food, but they are stored in the seed for the future use of the 
germinating plant, as they will keep unchanged, while sugar, the food, will 
not keep. But when a seed germinates another wonderful change takes 
place. A fermentive principle is formed, which has the power to transform 
the oil back into starch, and from starch into glucose, or grape sugar, which 
can be used directly by the living matter as food, and as material for building 
up structure, until the green leaves are formed and the roots begin to absorb 
matter from the soil. 

During the time the seed has been dry, the living matter has simply been 
dormant, waiting for the coming of water under a proper temperature with 
the oxygen of the air, to render it once more active. There is a great differ- 
ence in the length of time during which the living matter will retain its 
vitality in a dormant state. Some seeds lose their vitality as soon as they be- 
come completely air dry; others will retain their vitality for a year, while still 
others will remain dormant for a number of years, and will grow as soon as 
the proper conditions of moisture , heat and air are present. Elsewhere will 
be found a table showing the length of time different seeds are good. 

how plants get food from the soil. 

Put several layers of damp blotting paper in a glass jar or tumbler, and 
on it place several beans, and then cover with a piece of glass, so as to retain 
moisture. In a few days the beans will germinate, and begin to throw out 
long white roots. 

Now examine these roots. You will find that the extreme tip of the 
rootlet is of rather a conical shape and is smooth and naked, while a little back 
from the tip a magnifying glass of moderate power will show you that the sur- 
face of the root is covered with a thick coat of fine velvety hairs. These root 
hairs are the organs through which the plant absorbs water from the soil. 
Their extreme fineness precludes the possibility of anything being absorbed 
that is not in a state of complete solution, as all solid particles must of course, 
be strained out. The mineral food of the plant is dissolved in the soil water, 
and is sucked by the root hairs from the watery films that surround each 
particle of the soil. In order that they shall do this, it is essential that the 

The Air— 21 

particles of the soil shall be in a state of fine pulverization, whereby its power 
of retaining moisture is greatly increased. Prof. King, in his work on the 
soil, illustrated this in the following way: 

A marble, dipped in water, will retain around it a film of water. If it 
is broken in two there will be an increase of surface to hold a film of water, 
and if it is pulverized, there will bo a marvellous increase in the number of 
particles, each having a film of water around it. 

These root hairs are produced on a short part of the rootlet just back of 
the tip as fast as the tip is projected into the soil, and as the root back of them 
grows older, and the cell walls thicken, the root hairs die off, and that part of 
the root remains simply as a conduit for the water the root hairs are gathering 

In this way, the root hairs are being continually formed in fresh soil and 
are foraging in new pastures. It should be easy then to understand that 
where a little fertilizer or manure is placed only in the hill, the roots soon get 
beyond it, and the feeding organs, the root hairs, are hunting for food in 
poorer soil. 

But the root tip itself is one of the most admirably contrived parts of the 
whole plant. The extreme point of every rootlet is a little older than the part 
just behind it. In other words, the actual growing tip of the rootlet is a 
group of young forming cells under the protection of a root cap. At this 
growing point new cells are formed to continue the elongation of the root, 
and to add to the structure of the root cap from beneath, so that the root cap 
is always being renewed from behind, as it is pushed through the soil by the 
elongation of the root behind it, and protects the young forming cells beneath 
it. It is easy to see that this is an admirable provision for the protection of 
the point of growth. In the older botanical works, it was stated that the ex- 
treme tips of the roots were what they called ''spongioles,"-and it was supposed 
that the work of absorption was carried on by the "spongioles." Having now- 
adays better microscopes, we have learned that there are no "spongioles" at 
all, but that the protecting root cap goes ever ahead of the advancing rootlet 
to search out the way, and to guide the root into fresh food. There seems to 
be a sort of dull sensitiveness in the root cap, by which it is in a measure en- 
abled to choose its way among the particles of the soil. The roots branch in 
an irregular sort of a manner, and not after the regularity of the branches 
above the ground, each branch coming out from the central core of the rootlet, 
and carr5'ing with it a portion of the outer bark as its first root cap, and then 
the branches form root hairs just as the main rootlets do. 

The root hairs seem to have the power, by some sort of secretion, to 
attach themselves firmly to the particles of the soil and suck moisture from 

22 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

them. If 3'ou sprout a seed in sand, and when the roots have developed, take 
it carefully from the sand and gently wash the roots, you will find that the 
root hairs are covered with fine particles of the sand, closely adhering to them. 
This close adhesion of the root hairs enables them to absorb all the moisture 
that surrounds the soil particles as a film, and enables them to get an amount 
of moisture from an apparently dry soil, that is surprising to those who have 
not studied that matter closely. There is also evidence that the root hairs do 
to some extent, exert a solvent influence on matters in soil otherwise insoluble. 


There is a direct connection between the roots branching in the soil, with 
their myriad of absorbing hairs, and the leaves on the top of the plant. In 
our trees and woody plants, this course is through the youngest sap wood, and 
in herbaceous plants like corn, it is through the pithy soft tissue. Anyone 
who has observed a corn stalk, has seen that through the soft part of the stalk 
there are a multitude of threads. Observing a cross section of the corn stalk 
under the microscope, we see that these threads are really tubes, or elongated 
cells, with thickened walls, and in the growing state of the plant, the walls of 
these cells are always saturated. As the leaves branch off, some of these tubu- 
lar threads branch into the leaves and form the framework, or what we call the 
veins of the leaf. It is through these fibres that the sap water reaches the 
leaves, and it is in the leaf where all the wonderful changes are made by which 
new material for growth is formed. Then after the material for growth is 
made it is carried wherever there is call for material through the youngest 
cells of tlie growing bark, and all the material for growth of top and roots 
comes from the leaves. 

Twist a wire tightly around the stem of a growing plant, and you will 
see that the growth is coming downward from the leaves. The stem swells 
above the stricture, and if it is long continued the path for the ascending sap 
water is finally cut off, and the branch will perish, with a swollen base 
formed from the materials that were taken in from air and soil before the 
wire was placed there. 

There was an old notion that the sap goes up in the spring and down in 
the fall. The fact is. that there is no circulation in plants that can be com- 
pared with the circulation of the blood in animals. The sap that rises in the 
trees in the spring is simply sap water in which the food of a mineral nature 
for the plant and the nitrogen for the living matter is dissolved, and the 
only descent is that of the fonned material for growth. 

The Air— 23 

This sap water, when it comes from the ground, is in a very dilute state ; 
and another function of the valves or mouths in the leaves, is to evaporate 
water into the air, and in this way, to condense and concentrate the food 
brought from the soil. This evaporation is also one of the means by which 
the water is pumped up from below, and that there is a rapid evaporation 
from the leaves is evidenced when we cut off a leafy branch and note how 
quickly the leaves wilt when the supply is cut off. 

Wilting of the leaves is also one of nature^s methods of protecting the 
plant. During the hours of sunlight, and at no other time, the mouths in 
the leaves are open to take in carbonic acid. But if the heat is great and the 
soil is dry, the leaves will wilt, and this at once closes the pores or mouths, and 
checks the evaporation until the plant can recover a supply from below. 



The prime object of the plant's existence is to prepare for the perpetuation 
of its kind. In some plants, the whole force of its vitality is expended in 
one season, in the production of a large crop of seed, in the growth of which 
the plant is exhausted, and it perishes after the seeds are formed. Such 
plants enduring but for a summer, we call annuals. 

There are others that spend the first year of their existence in the storing 
up in roots a great accumulation of food, which they exhaust the next season 
in the production of seed, and they, too, then perish. These are called 
biennials, or two year plants. Others store up growth of larger dimensions, 
year after year, and finally, when strong and well matured, give some of the 
accumulated vitality to the production of fruit and seed, and continue to do 
so for many years ; some for hundreds of years, having a rather indefinite term 
of existence. These we call perennials, or plants living through a long series 
of years. Still another class accumulate during years of growth, long or 
short, a great store of food, and finally make the supreme effort of their lives 
in the production of a vast growth of flowers and fruit, and then perish. To 
this class belong the plants known as Century plants, the American Agaves 
and others. 

The plants that farmers depend upon for crops are chiefly the annual and 
biennial classes. 


The flower of a plant is considered by botanists to be really a collection 
of leaves, changed in various ways to serve the purpose of reproduction. 
Every complete flower has two protecting coats; the outer one called the calyx 
is commonly green, but is sometimes })rightly colored. The inner circle of 
transformed leaves is called the corolla, and its separate leaves are called 
petals , while those of the calyx are called sepals. The inner circles of leaves 
are still further transformed so as to make stamens and pistils. On the sta- 


The GrROWTH of a Seed — 25 

mens aro borne certain cells that open by valves, and which contain the male 
element of the flower called the pollen. The central set of transformed 
leaves makes wliat is called the pistil or female organ of the flower. At the 
lower end of this grows the seed vesjsel, or ovary, containing the ovules, which 
are to be transformed into seeds. At the upper end of the pistil is a variously 
shaped organ known as the stigma, which is naked and for a while moist on 
the surface. The pollen, or male element, falls on this and swells and begins 
to grow into a tiil)e of various lengths, according to the character of the 
flower. This pollen tul)e passes through the tissue of the pistil till it reaches 
the ovary, and there in a certain cell of the ovule it sets up a new growth of 
cells, that gradually take on the form of a miniature plantlet, and form 
what is called the embryo, or germ, of the seed. In this seed the plant then 
stores up starch or oil suflicient for its sustenance till in its germination it 
can make green leaves. It then rapidly parts with the water and the seed be- 
comes ripe, and remains dornuint until brought again under the influence 
of moisture, warmth and the oxygen of the air. 

A seed then is a living organism in which vitality is simply suspended 
for a time, and which contains all the elements of a future plant when placed 
under proper conditions for growth. If it has these conditions it will grow. 
If they or any one of them are absent it will remain dormant or perish. If the 
seed is l)uried so deeply that the oxygen of the air cannot properly affect it, 
though tliere may be moisture and heat, it will not grow. We see this fre- 
quently in the case of clover seeds deeply buried in the soil, which grow after 
they have again been turned up to the influence of the air. If moisture is 
al)SGnt, the living matter of the seed cannot swell and become active, and 
though there may be heat and oxygen enough, the seed cannot grow. Then, 
too, there may be moisture and oxygen, but if the temperature is not right 
for that particular seed, it will not grow. This proper temperature varies 
with different seeds. All cultivators know that some seeds need more heat 
than others. The garden pea will germinate at a temperature but little above 
the freezing point, while Indian corn subjected to the same conditions will 
perish. It is essential then, to know something of the nature of the seeds we 
plant so that we may give them the proper conditions of growth. 


While the seed is the final result of the plant's effort at reproduction, 
tht fruit is the ripened vessel or ovary which contains these seeds. The pea 
pod is the fruit of the pea plant, and is simply the ripened seed vessel. But 
there are some plants in which other parts are commonly known as the fruit. 

26 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

In the apple, the ripened seed vessel, or core, is surrounded hy the thickening 
calyx of the flower, which increases in size after the petals of the flovv^er fall, 
and surround the fruit proper, which we call the core, and this thickened 
calyx is what we use as the fruit of the apple and pear and quince. In the 
strawberry, the end of the stem on which the fruits are borne, swells up and 
carries the collection of little fruits up, borne on its outer surface in little 
depressions. We call this edible part the fruit, while the botanist calls the 
seed vessels that contain the seeds, the true fruit. The edible part of the 
strawberry is merely the swollen receptacle which bore the flower. 

In our Indian corn, each grain that we call a seed is a separate fruit, 
the resiilt of the ripening of the ovary of the pistil, which is the silk. For 
every grain on the cob is the result of a single female fliower, and each grain 
has its own silk, and if each silk does not get pollen from the tassel, or male 
organ, there is no grain formed. Hence we can easily see why a single stalk 
of corn standing in a field seldom makes a perfect ear. In the field the great 
cloud of pollen that floats all around and covers the ground insures the fertili- 
zation or impregnation of every silk. The cereal grains then are ripened 
fruits and not mere seeds. In a state of nature the plant simply stores food 
enough to insure the growth of the plantlet for a while after germination. 
In cultivation the effort is to increase this store that it may be made use of by 
man for food for himself and domestic animals. Nature is content with mere 
reproduction ; we want something else. Hence to keep plants up to a greater 
production of useful material, it is necessary that we should accumulate the 
desirable qualities by constant selection of those* that show the greater ten- 
dency to make what we want. Nature is perfectly content with a wild crab 
apple. It has all the power of reproduction, and is more hardy and vigorous 
than the highly developed apple, since it is the survival in the struggle with 
other plants of like character, while the plants we would choose have developed 
9 certain desirable character for our use, but have in other respects gotten less 
able to survive in a struggle with wild plants. So we have paid attention 
to the accumulation of a desirable growth of the edible portion of the apple, 
and have bred it away from the original wild crab into something we want. 
But turn it back to the unaided forces of nature and it will soon revert to a 
form adapted to survive and the fruit will become less and less desirable to 

We find, then, that the more we refine a plant and fit it for our use the 
more it needs the fostering care of man, and the less able it is to take care 
of itself. 

The wild potato of Peru and Arizona makes small underground tubers, 
simply enough to keep a portion of the plant with buds and capable of grow- 

The Growth of a Seed — 27 

ing again. We have bred the cultivated potato into the habit of storing larger 
quantities of starch in its under ground tubers, and this, too, has been brought 
about by a gradual accumulative selection of those that develop this habit 
to the greatest extent. Left to themselves, there is a constant tendency to 
revert into original and inferior forms. 

Our tomatoes are the result of long selection, starting with a cross of the 
smooth and hollow forms on the crooked and solid fleshed sorts, we have by 
accumulative selection gotten the knobby tomato inside the smooth skin of 
the hollow one, and we find yet that it is hard to keep it there, and the volun- 
teer plants that annually come up in the garden are apt to revert into one 
or the other of the original forms. 



Many people imagine that the new and improved forms of garden and 
field plants that are brought out by our enterprising seedsmen are the result 
of some sort of magical hocus pocus of crossing or hybridizing, and think 
that by taking two plants that have characters we wish to combine we can, 
by crossing them, at once obtain the combined character we want. The fact 
is, that crossing simply gives us a starting point from which, by long and 
careful selection towards an ideal plant we may have in mind, we may finally 
reach a point near what we aimed at. The new varieties introduced by the 
seedsmen, when they are really new and valuable, are the result of long years 
of careful selection through which hereditary characters have been formed 
that may be expected to be permanent in the offspring. The writer once 
attempted the development of a variety of sugar corn that would have stamina 
enough for the Southern climate. As a starting point, a cross was made 
of the Learning, a Western field corn of a yellow color, on the Mammoth 
sugar, a large eared, late sugar corn of a white color. The first result of the 
cross was to cut the plant loose from its inherited character, and the ears came 
sprinkled all over with white wrinkled grains, yellow wrinkled grains, white 
dent grains and yellow dent grains. We assumed that the yellow wrinkled 
grains were the ones that inherited the characters of both parents. Therefore 
we selected only these- for planting. The next season there was a larger pro- 
portion of grains that had this character, and they were produced on a plant 
of a sturdy, yet short habit and just the style of plant we were aiming at. The 
process of selection was carried on year after year in a location where the 
plants could not be affected by pollen from any other corn. But it required 
^even years of careful selection before we could establish the heredity that 
caused the plant uniformly to make yellow wrinkled grains all over the ears. 


Plant Breeding — 29 

I mention this to show that the making of an improved variety of any plant 
that is reproduced from seed is not a sudden thing, but must be the result of 
long and patient effort. But it is an effort that any observant farmer can 
make for himself, and he can thereby increase the value of his crops to a very 
marked extent. There is no magic about it, but only the patient working 
towards an ideal well formed in mind to which we wish to attain. 

But in all plant breeding and improvement we must work for the char- 
acter of the whole plant and not for a single feature. In the colder sections 
of our country plant breeders who have undertaken the improvement of the 
Indian corn have been compelled to take earliness of ripening into account, 
and hence have developed a character that is not essential to the farmer in 
the more southern sections. In the South farmers have for generations been 
breeding corn simply for the biggest ear. They get enormous ears, but by 
taking no account of the habit of the plant, they have developed a tall, long- 
legged corn that bears but a single ear and requires a greater distance in plant- 
ing, and hence makes a small product per acre. Southern improvers of the 
corn plant should work for a more dwarf and sturdy habit, and greater 
prolificacy. In other words, they should work for the character of plant they 
want without regard to whether it is a late ripening sort or not, since they 
have time enough to ripen any. But the Northern improver must take also 
the quality of early ripening in addition to the character of the plant 
and its prolificacy. Breed for a plant suited to your needs and not for one 
character of the plant alone. But it is not the corn plant alone that may be 
improved by selection. All our cereal grains, our cotton, tobacco and all 
other plants that are reproduced from seed, will yield to the same course of 
treatment and may be immeasurably improved. But to keep these improved 
forms to their standard the selection must be carried on the same way it has 
been done. A farmer gets an improved variety of corn, which has been 
selected on a certain line. He finds it really an improved variety. But he 
goes at once to work selecting seed out of the crib as he has always done, with- 
out reference to the character of the plant that bore the ear, and soon he 
finds that the corn has changed its character and is no longer like the corn he 
got, and he concludes that the improved sorts soon run out. But it is simply 
because he has bred it on a different line from that by which it was originally 
developed. He has worked simply for a big ear while the introducer worked 
for the whole plant. 

Another point to be observed in the improvement of plants is to remove 
them from disturbing influences around them. We may have corn which 
shows very nearly the character which we wish to perpetuate, and it is sur- 
rounded by stalks that have produced no ear, but have made an abundance of 

30 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

pollen on the tassel. The chances then are that the seed taken from the 
fine stalk will have been crossed by the inferior ones, and will take more of 
their character than its own. Therefore, in saving seed corn, we should make 
sure that none of the barren stalks are allowed to make tassels and thus to 
interfere with the process of seed improvement. I once undertook the im- 
provement of my tomatoes. I found one plant in the field which showed 
remarkable productiveness and fine, smooth fruit. It was surrounded by 
rough and undesirable plants. If I had taken the seed from this plant it 
would have been crossed by inferior kinds. Therefore I made cuttings from 
it late in the fall and potted them, and placed them in the greenhouse. They 
were there cared for as other greenhouse plants are, and more cuttings were 
made late in winter. By spring time I had plants enough to set a considerable 
area and all of the same identical habit, and could now save the seed with 
some certainty of getting plants more nearly like the original than if I had 
taken seed at first. These seeds were sown the following year and another 
selection made and carried over from cuttings, and in a few years I had a 
tomato which I have never seen excelled. Unfortunately, after years of effort 
the stock was lost in fire. I give this as a sample of what may be done by in- 
telligent effort with almost any of our garden vegetables and flowers. There 
is no branch of cropping either in field or garden, more interesting and 
profitable than the improvement of cultivated varieties. Form in mind the 
ideal plant which you wish to produce and annually select seed from plants 
that come nearest to your ideal plant. Never select for a single character 
in the plant. If you select simply for big ears of corn you may get the big 
ears along with other undesirable characters. If you select for a big tomato, 
you will get that, but it may be unproductive and of bad shape. In plant 
breeding we must take into consideration all the characters we wish to per- 
petuate in the plant, and try to breed out all the bad features by avoiding 
them. The improved tomato of today is the result of long-continued 
crossing and selection, for the purpose of getting the crooked, but solid and 
meaty Mexican tomato inside the smooth skin of the old smooth, but hollow 
tomato. It is always trying to get out, apparently, and hence constant 
selection is needed to keep a variety near the type. While we can, to a certain 
extent, get plants into the habit of coming true to seed it requires constant 
watchfulness to keep them so, for there is always a tendency to break away 
from the inherited form and to sport into others. A break of this sort may 
be an advantage and a starting point for a new variety found. I have recently 
had my attention called to a curious instance of this. A gentleman has a tree 
of the old Blood peach, which has for years borne the same peach, and this 
peach is of such a fixed type that it commonly comes true when raised from 

Plant Breeding — 31 

seed. But the past season, the tree in question abandoned its habit and pro- 
duced a crop of white peaches instead of the typical ones, blood red to the seed. 
It is impossible to explain the cause of these reversions, or "sports," as the 
srardeners call them. But when we find these variations from the normal 
type, we can frequently make them permanent by propagation. Many years 
ago, at Kenansville, N". C, Kev. Mr. Sprunt found a shoot on a Safrano rose 
bush in his garden, which made a flower of a lemon yellow color, whereas the 
Safrano is a buff colored rose. The sporting shoot was used for cuttings, 
and from tliis variation we have the Isabella Sprunt rose. Many other florist^s 
plants have originated in the same way. 

But in plants that are annually grown from the seed, it is necessary to 
fix by selection through years, the hereditary habit of coming true to the 
desired type. It is in this way that the races or strains of certain plants have 
become established. Carelessness in the selection of seed is the main cause 
of most of the degeneration of typos that bother the farmer. He gets a corn 
or a wheat of a certain variety, which has been bred to its present state 
through a long series of years, by selecting towards a well established ideal 
plant in the mind of the grower. When he has brought it to a point of com- 
parative perfection it is sent out, and at once men who have different ideals 
or none, get hold of it, and the tendency to variation which all plants possess, 
starts it off in various ways, and while the seed lists continue to' give the name 
of the variety the seed has often been bred away from the original type in to 
a variety of forms. A neighbor of mine many years ago, sent North and got 
seed of the King Phillip corn, a variety of a dark brownish yellow color, with 
a small cob and broad, flat, flinty grains. His idea was to get an early ripen- 
ing corn for late planting on the low lands near a river where the soil did not 
dry out early. Under his mode of selection the corn has assumed an entirely 
different type, and the only point in which it now resembles the King Phillip 
is its color, for the number of rows on the ear has doubled, and the corn is a 
dent instead of a flint, and is now more similar to the Leaming. He selected 
simply for the largest ears, as is the common practice among the majority 
of farmers. 

Since the Indian corn is more susceptible to improvement than most of 
the crop plants grown by our farmers I will here give the method I have 
heretofore advised in regard to the saving of seed corn. If the grower is in 
the northern limit of the corn belt, he will have to pay attention to the earli- 
ness of the variety he wishes to secure. In the South this item may be 
entirely ignored, since we have plenty of time to mature any corn. I would 
begin with the best variety attainable in the section where the corn is to be 
grown, for it is far better to start with an acclimated corn than to get a 

32 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

variety from north or south of the locality. Therefore get the best corn in 
your neighborhood, and plant a patch especially for seed. Give it the best of 
care in the preparation of the soil, the manuring and the cultivation, for a 
complete development is what we want first. Do not crowd a lot of plants 
in one hill, but plant singly in the rows. Now watch the corn as the tassels 
first show, and go through it and cut out every tassel before it ripens, from 
every hill that does not promise to make an ear; for these barren stalks are 
strong males and their pollen will have a deleterious influence on the plants 
around them. Then, as the crop matures, mark the stalks that come nearest 
to the type of plant you are after. In the North, have an eye to the earliness of 
the plant as Avell as the other characteristics. In the South we need to breed 
towards a shorter and more sturdy plant, and to get away from the long- 
legged style so common, in which the ears are almost out of reach and are 
borne singly on the stalks. Select for productiveness, by marking only those 
with two or more ears. In the South, select for the seed ear the lowest one on 
the stalk, and this wall generally be the smallest one, but it will inherit a 
tendency to form another ear above it, and we need this as well as the tendency 
to grow nearer the ground. In the North it may be best to save both ears. 

From the corn thus saved plant not only your entire field, but another 
seed patch, and on this seed patch, practice the same plan of selection, always 
keeping in mind the ideal plant you wish to establish. As the number of ears 
on the plant increase, and the productiveness of the variety is established, we 
would select for the general character of the plant year after year. The 
southern corn has become long-legged from the constant practice of selecting 
the largest ears in the crib. These large ears are commonly the only ones on 
the stalk, are usually borne high above the ground, may have been surrounded 
in the field by a multitude of barren and inferior stalks, and, as it is the 
pollen around the plant, rather than its own, which sets the grains, the plant- 
ing of the big ear will often lead to disappointment. If every farmer paid 
the proper attention to the selection of his seed corn, the crop all over the 
country would be immensely increased without any additional acreage. 

The cotton farmer in like manner should have his seed patch and select 
for the ideal cotton plant, and not merely for big bolls ; and in all our annual 
crops plant breeding in an intelligent manner would greatly increase the 
average yield. But as the majority of farmers will not undertake this work, 
it leaves a wide field for intelligent effort for those who do, for they will 
be able to get a greatly increased price for their well bred seed from those who 
are not disposed to take the trouble. Not long since I had a letter from a 
North Carolina farmer saying that he had been practicing the method of 
saving seed corn which I had advised, and that his crop had increased in pro- 

Plant Breeding — 33 

ductiveness to such an extent that his neighbors were wanting his corn for 
seed. Such is always the case with the improvement of any of our crops, 
and shows that the reward of intelligent effort at improvement is certain. 


There is no plant grown by our farmers which will yield more ready re- 
sults from intelligent selection and breeding than the cotton plant, and there 
is no plant grown in the United States of greater commercial importance. 
In fact, the greater part of our foreign commerce is founded upon the fact 
that we lead the world in the production of this great staple, and yet there is 
no farm plant that has been so persistently neglected by plant breeders. Of 
course here and there thoughtful men in the Cotton States have done much for 
the improvement of cotton for their particular section, and for a while the 
varieties produced by them have a certain popularity. But soon the careless 
methods of selection among cultivators in general, change the character of 
the plant, and the ideal plant towards which the originator was working is 
lost sight of and a deterioration is the result. There is no one point in which 
there is greater need for intelligent effort on the part of the agriculturists 
of the Experiment Stations in the Cotton States, than in the improvement of 
varieties of cotton for the different sections of the cotton belt. In fact, the 
whole matter of plant breeding should claim the special attention of Station 
workers, for in no other way can the workers in agriculture and horticulture 
more efficiently aid the farmer and gardener, than in the production of more 
prolific plants of the various crops and the increase in the quality of their 
products. Here and there this matter has been receiving attention, and the 
real improvement in the cotton plant dates more from the origin of Experi- 
ment Stations than during any previous time. The cotton grower, like the 
grain farmer, has too long been aiming at special features in his product, 
rather than the general development of the whole plant. The corn grower 
of the South has worked simply for a big ear. He gets this at the expense 
of prolificacy and gets a tall and ungainly plant. The cotton grower is en- 
raptured by a big boll, and fails to see that when breeding simply for 
a big boll he is getting a long legged "weed." No real improvement can 
be effected in any plant that proceeds upon the selection for a single feature 
of the plant. The cotton grower wants, of course, as large a boll as possible, 
but he does not want the large boll at the expense of yield in general. He 
likes a good length of staple, hut he does not want the long staple at the ex- 
pense of late maturity and weakness in the constitution of the plant. Hence 

34 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

anyone who attempts the improvement of any of our crop plants must study 
the character of the whole plant, and not attempt to breed for characters that 
are antagonistic to each other. Our southern farmers readily recognize the 
fact that there are good and poor varieties of corn, wheat and other crops, 
but the great majority of the growers seem to think that cotton seed is simply 
cotton seed, and take very little thought about it so long as it will germinate 
and grow. The result is that only here and there have there been men wlio 
have given any attention to the selection of improved varieties of the cotton 
plant, and when these improved varieties are sent out among farmers they are 
delighted with some of them for a while, and then, having secured the 
improved strain, thqy assume that they have it for good, and go ahead as 
they formerly did, get their seed from the general crop at the gin, and the 
variable force so strong in the plant, soon takes it out of the strain into which 
care has bred it; and though the grower claims that he is still growing the 
variety, he has simply allowed it to run back to an inferior variety and finds 
it no better than the others. It is not the fault of the improved variety, but 
of the careless grower. So long, then, as the great mass of cotton growers 
will take no pains in the proper selection of their seed, there is room for great 
profit to the grower who will work in an intelligent manner to produce, for 
his own use at least, a cotton that will prove of increased productiveness and 
quality. Mr. H. B. Mitchell, an intelligent cotton grower in Georgia, writing 
in regard to this matter, says that he has proved the utter fallacy of the notion 
that any kind of cotton seed is as good as any other. "Starting out with un- 
improved seed making one-fourth of a bale per acre, we have, with improved 
seed and careful selection each year, produced a cotton which, under very ad- 
verse conditions, yields a bale per acre, and from which we are satisfied the 
limit has by no means yet been reached. To improve seed, the first of Sep- 
tember we go over the cotton, marking such stalks as evince the highest points 
of merit. The cotton from these stalks we pick in advance of the regular 
cotton pickers, rejecting all damaged or immature bolls, and spreading as 
picked, till thoroughly dry. It is next carried to gin, the gin completely 
cleaned out, and swept around, a large sheet spread down to receive the seed, 
which is then sacked up and so kept till hauled to the field at planting time. 
Were it not for bees there would be no trouble in keeping the cotton pure, 
but they bring the pollen from fields of unimproved cotton, causing a good 
deal of mixture." 

Mr. W. E. Cole, of Cartcrsvillc, Ga., writes : "I was raised on a cotton farm 
in the old South, and no care was taken in the saving of the seed, but it was 
simply taken from the general seed pile at the gin in the fall. As I 
grew older I began the study of the cotton plant more closely. I noticed 

Plant Breeding — 35 

that some stalks produced more lint than others and of a better quality, while 
some had hardly any as the seed was black and lintless, and these, of course, 
had their influence on the plants around. I began to think that if one could 
get rid of those black and lintless seeds it would be a great improvement in 
the cotton. (Lintless seeds bear the same relation to cotton as barren stalks 
do to corn. — W. F. M.) But upon noticing more closely I found several 
varieties of cotton in the same field. Some was storm proof, while in others 
the cotton would fall from the boll in the least shower of wind or rain. In 
1897, while picking cotton, I found a variety which suited me better than any 
I have ever seen, as it produces more and larger bolls and lint of a superior 
quality, being long and fine and the seed of small size. When the season was 
over I had fifty pounds of seed cotton of this variety. I took it to my ginner 
and gave him the lint to take the seed out clean and separately. He cleaned 
his gin of all seed that was in it, and fed it through by hand, so that I had a 
bushel of clean seed to take home. In the spring this was planted on an 
acre, well cultivated and thinned to eighteen inches apart in three-foot rows. 
It made a rank growth and we had to lay it by the- last of June, as it was 
then too rank to get through. When fall came it was a pleasant sight to look 
upon, the stalks averaging 40 to 50 bolls and some as many as 80 well devel- 
oped bolls ; and would pick nearly a pound of cotton. I cleaned 1,000 pounds 
of lint from that acre and got seed enough to plant my entire crop the 
following year. I sold no seed that year. One of my neighbors contended 
there was nothing in selected seed and I gave him a bushel of my seed, which 
he planted in the middle of his field with mixed varieties on either side, to give 
it a fair test; when fall came he was thoroughly convinced, as the selected 
seed made double the crop of the mixed seed on the same ground. I make 
35 to 50 per cent, more cotton than with mixed and unselected seed." 

These items of experience, from practical cotton growers, show plainly 
that there is no crop more amenable to improvement than the cotton crop, 
if the seed is wisely selected. If every grower of cotton would take the same 
pains the crop could easily be doubled without any increase of acreage, and 
there would be more profit at low prices than there is now at fair prices. 
Since the price of cotton in this country is almost entirely dependent upon 
the size of the crop, and a large crop is apt to run the price down to 
a point at which a careless grower finds no profit, it is evident that if a care- 
ful man, by intelligent selection of seed, can double the product of his area, 
the selection is well worth looking after. 

But, as we have said, any selection for the improvement of the product 
must take into consideration the whole plant and its surroundings. The 
habit of the plant has a great deal to do with the size and character of the 

36 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

crop. A cotton plant that habitually grows long-jointed and single-boiled 
can never be as productive as one that is more compact in habit and makes 
twin bolls. Long staple is a good feature, but if mere length of staple is 
the only feature looked after it may be accompanied by other less desirable 
characters. Hence, in the improvement of cotton, it is desirable to get to- 
gether the plants that have certain desirable features, though they may not all 
be combined in one plant. But by planting together the ones that have at least 
one feature we are after, and taking them away from the influence of plants 
like the lintless ones, we may by degrees get the desirable features combined 
in one variety, if we annually work towards an ideal. Mr. Cole was very 
fortunate in making such an advance in a single season, but if the same 
selection is not followed up the variable character of the plant will soon run 
the cotton back to its former mixed character. The permanent improvement 
of no plant that is annually reproduced from seed can be effected in a single 
season. We must patiently, year after year, select towards the ideal we have 
in mind, until we have established hereditary tendencies to come like the seed 
plant. Only after years of careful selection can we claim to have an im- 
proved variety. And here is right where there has been more failures than 
in anything else connected with the cotton crop. One grower, like Mr. Cole, 
finds plants of extra quality and saves the seed. The result is an improve- 
ment. But the plants selected from were surrounded by others of inferior 
character, and, as Mr. Mitchell says, the bees are always ])ringing pollen to 
the blooms, for there is a great deal of nectar in a cotton flower, and the 
result is that the variety is not uniformly the same, nor permanent. The 
plants for seed should annually be planted in a section by themselves, and all 
inferior plants that vary from the type sought should be rigorously rogued 
out. No matter if your entire crop was planted that season from selected 
seed of the year before, save no seed but from the seed patch where the watch 
has been kept on it, and finally you will get a real race, or strain, of improved 
cotton that will be permanent. I have treated thus fully on the fruit 
and the seed, since upon these depend all the improvement we are to make 
in our cultivated plants that are to produce the crops we sell and use. And 
there is no one point in farm economy more neglected than the breeding of 
the plants we cultivate. Seedsmen fully understand the great value of pedi- 
gree in their seed stocks, and pedigree in a plant also that in an animal, comes 
through thoughtful and persistent breeding towards an ideal plant or animal. 
We have treated of the selection of seed in the corn and cotton plants as types 
of two great crops that are of interest to two large classes of growers. But 
the improvement through selection is not confined to cotton and corn. There 
is not a crop grown on the farm that will not yield improved results to the 

Plant Breedinc — 37 

intelligent plant breeder. The broom corn grower can increase the length 
and quality of his brush and get it on a plant nearer within reach by careful 
selection and the growing of a seed-stock by itself, for no permanent advance 
can be made so long as the seed-stock is subject to disturbing iniluences around 
it. We have been hearing a great deal of late years about the need for seed 
testing under Government control, and our great Department of Agriculture 
has, until recently, done a good deal of laboratory testing of seeds. While 
this work has a certain value in the determining of the clean character of the 
seeds and their germinating quality, it does not go far enough to determine 
anything of real value to the cultivator. The wide awake gardener, farmer 
or seed grower lays more stress upon the pedigree of the seed than upon the 
mere matter of percentage of germination. Of course a fair percentage of 
germinating power is essential in any seed that is to be planted, but the wise 
cultivator will take seed of a lower germination test than another if he knows 
that it has a better pedigree behind it. The laboratory germination test 
proves nothing in this regard, and, in fact, would not show whether a certain 
sample was cabbage seed or cauliflower or some other cruciferous 
plant, or whether a certain sample of beets was an early or 
late variety. All that the laboratory test proves is the per- 
centage of pure seed free from trash and weeds there is in a 
sample and the percentage of these seeds that will germinate. The only 
real test of seeds is that practiced by the best seedsmen who run farms at 
great expense, for the sole purpose of testing the seeds they sell, in the same 
conditions that their customers must be under; and also by the workers in 
the Experiment Stations in their variety trials. Intelligent seed growers 
must of necessity understand the laws of nature under which all their at- 
tempts at improvement must be carried out. It is an easy matter for the 
gardener who is propagating plants from cuttings, l)uds, grafts and layers to 
catch and make permanent a certain variation in his plants that may be 
desirable, for he is simply reproducing that identical plant ; and he can retain 
the variation at once and make it permanent, as I have shown, in the instance 
of the rose grown from a sporting shoot, which at once makes a new variety 
to be cut into thousands and put on new roots. But in the case of the plants 
annually grown from seed there is a set of very different conditions. Plants 
are infinitely variable, and the blossoms that are to form the seeds are 
subject to infinite interference from insects, winds and the neighborhood of 
other plants of the same species. Plants of a vigorous character are always 
tending to l^reak away from the line of their breeding, and if the grower 
slack in his efforts, or loses sight of the ideal towards which he is selecting, 
nature makes a reversion, and it may be towards an inferior type. Hence, as 

38 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

we have said in the ease of the cotton of Mr. Cole, it is not enough to have 
made a start. It must be kept up, and only constant vigilance will keep any 
plant true to type and above its fellows. Therefore we would lay down the 
following rules for those who would improve their cultivated crops: 

1. Fix well in mind the type of plant you wish to grow, and never for an 
instant lose sight of it. 

2. Begin by selecting the plant that comes nearest to the type, and do not 
expect to get your ideal all at once. 

3. So far as practicable, remove inferior plants from the immediate 
vicinity of your selected plant ; save seed from the selected plant only. 

4. Plant the selected seed as far removed as possible from any other 
plants of the same kind, and then rigidly root out every plant that falls below 
the first selection; save seed only from plants that show a decided advance 
towards the ideal plant you have in mind. 

5. Never breed for a single character of the plant, but take the whole 
plant into consideration. If you breed simply for a big ear of corn or a big 
boll of cotton, you may get these at the expense of other desirable characters ; 
but take the whole character of the plant, its habit of growth, its general 
productiveness and every desirable character, so as to get not only the kind of 
product you want, but get it on an ideal plant. If you follow this up with 
patience, year after year, always remembering that what you want is seldom 
what nature would place in the survival of the fittest, and that any relax- 
ation of effort on your part will give nature a chance to undo your work, — 
you will finally find that you have a race of seed on which you can rely 
with certainty as to the result, you will find that intelligent seed merchants 
are ever on the hunt for the men who have sense enough to study and im- 
prove their plants, your neighbors will take an interest in your crops and there 
will be more money in your purse, and you will be a benefactor of your race 
by improving production. 

While the improvement of the soil for the production of crops is the 
main object of this book, there is no doubt that we will be excused for dwell- 
ing so long on the seed and its selection, for there is fully as much to be 
gained in this way as by the improvement of the soil in which thoy are grown. 

No matter how a farmer or gardener may iuiprove his soil in ])roductive 
capacity, if he plants seed of inferior character bis crojjs will not be what they 
should be. If our farm readers could visit, as I have done, the seed farms of 
the seed growers, and the testing farms of the great seed dealers, they would 
be amazed at the minute care that is needed to preserve and improve the 
seeds they purchase; they would no longer wonder that first class seeds must 
bring a fair price, and they would realize that the most costly thing a man 

Plant Breeding — 39 

can buy is poor seed. Not merely seed of poor germinating power, but seed 
tlestitute of breeding, and, like a scrub cow, not entitled to register among 
well bred animals. And yet in all their purchases there is no one point where 
farmers are so short sighted as in the purchase of seed. This is particularly 
true of seeds of forage and grass crops, which are so generally purchased. A 
farmer finds in the hands of a commission merchant a lot of clover seed right 
from the huller, and buys it, solely because it is to be had for a dollar or more 
less per bushel than seed that a seedsman has carefully recleaned. The re- 
cleaned seed is usually cheaper by reason of the greater number of clover seed 
in the bushel, and it is infinitely cheaper in the fact that the farmer sows no 
weeds with it. The larger part of the weeds that infest our farms and re- 
duce our crops, have gotten there in foul grass and clover seed. A farmer 
recently wrote me that his farm is so completely stocked with the narrow- 
leaf plantain gotten in clover seed that he can no longer make a decent crop of 
clover. I never read a better sermon on the value of clean seed than his let- 
ter. Buying cheap seeds, or rather low priced seeds, is "saving at the spigot 
and losing at the bunghole." Better pay two prices for clean clover and 
grass seed than to have the inferior given to you. Farmers should be students 
of seeds in more ways than one. They should learn to know seeds of all sorts 
when they see them. For instance, take a sample of clover seed. It may 
have in it as a purposely added adulteration (as is practiced by some), seeds 
of the worthless yellow trefoil ; and the farmer who has not studied seeds will 
not detect the adulteration till he sees his fields yellow with the trefoil in- 
t<tead of red clover. It may have in it seeds of dodder that will speedily de- 
stroy clover, and they will pass muster with the careless observer, by reason 
of their yellow color. A good magnifying glass is of greatest import- 
ance in the selection of seeds, and a knowledge of seeds is quite as important. 
Hence every farmer should get a collection of the seeds of all sorts of foul 
weeds, and get completely familiar with them, so that he can at once detect 
what impurities are in the seed samples he is examining. The seed is the 
starting point of the crop, and if the crop is to be a success the seed must be 
the best. The seed is also the starting point of the weed, for a weed is merely 
a plant where it is not wanted. Hence if we do not want weeds we should be 
extremely careful never to sow them. Many thousands of acres of the best 
mowing lands are so foul with weeds that there is more weed in the hay than 
timothy or clover, and the losses to farmers all over the land, through foul 
clover and grass seed, are so great that we cannot too urgently insist upon the 
importance of the seed. 


While, as we have seen, plants get by far the larger part of their structure 
from the air, they get by far the most important matters from the soil, so far 
as the making of a crop is concerned. While the carbon-di-oxide in the air 
and the oxygen itself are essential to plant growth, the soil and the matters 
which it furnishes are also essential. Some idea, therefore, of the origin of 
soils and their nature and composition is essential to a proper understanding 
of plant life, and the means for best sustaining and improving it. 

Back in the eighteenth century, the great French chemist, Lavoisier, 
enunciated the great truth that in this earth nothing is created and nothing 
is destroyed. That is, all substances that now exist have existed from the 
beginning and will always exist. We cannot create anything ; we can simply 
make new combinations of things already existing in soil and air, and when 
this new combination is destroyed, these matters go back to the forms in 
which they were acquired. We grow a tree from materials existing in soil 
and air. Finally we burn the tree and get back the heat it originally got 
from the sun. It is destroyed as a tree, but the carbon-di-oxide and water 
and nitrogen have gone back where they came from, into the air; we have 
left a handful of ashes, representing what it got from the soil, and these we 
put back in the soil, where they can be used over again to build other plants. 
The elements that went to make up the tree are still in existence, just as they 
were before they were combined into a tree; and so in soil and air nature is 
simply working over the same old materials and forming new combinations. 

The soils that form the foundation for our farms are all the result of the 
gradual breaking down of the old earth-crust, and the crumbling and pulver- 
izing of the rocks through natural agencies. AVhen the earth first cooled 
from a molten ball, the old, crystalline rocks were formed, and in the lapse 
of ages other rocks were formed under water, and afterwards were elevated. 
As soon as rocks arc above the sea the process of disintegration begins. The 


The Soil — il 

waves of the ocean dash upon them and grind them into sand. Rains, by 
imperceptible degrees, dissolve them. Water gets into the cracks and by 
freezing, forces off particles large or small. It is, therefore, by this weather- 
ing process that the materials for our soils have been formed, and then 
washed down from the higher to lower elevations, and spread abroad over 
the rocky base. 

Many soils are formed from the gradual decay of the rocks on which 
they rest, and are, therefore, of the same composition as the rocks themselves. 
Other soils have no connection with the rocks beneath them, but are formed 
by the decomposition of other rocks, mixed with decayed organic matter, and 
brought down in flood and deposited on the low lands, making what are 
known as alluvial soils. Then, too, in many instances the valley lands, 
known as limestone soils, are the beds of ancient lakes, in which the lime- 
stone was formed from the shells of mollusks ; the alluvial soil was afterwards 
accumulated above the rocks, and the soil really contains less lime than soil 
of a very different formation. 

The mountains of the present day are far lower than they were when first 
formed, and the constant wearing away is still going on ; the streams still 
bring down from the mountains vast amounts of fresh soil to accumulate on 
the flats and river bottoms, gradually forming more alluvium. 

Every hill that is in cultivation is constantly being carried ofl! to the 
lower lands ; hence, the low lands are of varying nature, sandy, clayey or silty, 
according to the kind of material brought down to them from time to time. 
Of course, there is a great variation in the mineral constituents of soils every- 
where, depending on the chemical make up of the rocks from which these 
mineral matters come. Low lands about the bases of the hills are generally 
fertile, not only because of the masses of soil transported to them in floods, 
but because the rain water running down to them from the hills carries the 
most soluble elements of fertility with it, to be absorbed by the low-land soil. 
The low lands are constantly being extended and elevated, and the ponds are 
constantly being fllled, till finally the smaller lakes become fast land, being 
filled up by soil washed down from the hills and with the remains of the 
vegetation they produce themselves. 

But while all the soft earth above the solid rocks is called soil, the soil 
that the farmer is mainly concerned with is that upper portion that has be- 
come altered by exposure to the effects of the air and the carbonic acid in the 
rain water, and which has become mixed with the decay of vegetable mat- 
ter and has assumed a darker color by reason of this vegetable decay. We call 
this the soil, and all that lies below is called the siibsoil. They may be, and 
generally in our upland soils are, identical in their composition; and differ 

42 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

only in the fact that the surface soil has accumulated humus from the vege- 
decay, and, by being exposed to the action of the oxygen of the air, has been 
brought into a condition in which it more readily gives up to plants its store 
of food. 

The original source of the humus in the soil was the natural growth on 
the land. Nature does not like bare ground and she soon covers it with some 
sort of vegetation. Among the grass and weeds the seeds of trees find lodge- 
ment and grow, and soon a forest is formed. The trees send their roots down 
deeply into the soil, and then scatter their leaves on the surface to gradually 
decay, year after year forming more and more of the black decay, and increas- 
ing the fertility of the soil. 

Then, after a while, some one comes along and cuts the forest down, and 
begins to cultivate the soil. He finds it fertile and productiye, and he goes 
right along cultivating it in the same crop year after year, and it grad- 
ually becomes less and less productive, till finally it is abandoned, to grow up 
once more in grass and weeds and once more be taken by nature for a new 
forest. Then, on the soil which was called worn out, but which was simply 
rendered unproductive by bad treatment, nature, by her unaided forces, with 
no fertilizer but that which she gathers from her own bosom, makes a grander 
growth than the man who wasted the soil ever grew. And she repeats the 
same process that formed the soil in the beginning, bringing up from deep 
down in the subsoil matters for the growth of trees, and spreading it year 
after year on the surface. Then another fellow comes along and makes fire- 
wood out of this second forest, and goes to work to reduce again the soil 
made fertile by the forest. He succeeeds sooner than the first, for the accumu- 
lation is more recent and lighter. But this man cannot afford to throw the 
land out and clear another piece as the first possessor of the soil did. 

So he begins to dribble a little commercial fertilizer on it to induce the 
soil to yield him crops to sell. He does this year after year, and keeps culti- 
vating the land in cotton or corn or wheat, as the case may be, and he wonders 
that the land seems to grow poorer and poorer, and the farmer gets poor too. 
But let him stop in despair, and nature will grow a grand crop again on that 
land without calling in the aid of the fertilizer man. Of course, we cannot, 
in our modern agriculture, adopt the methods that nature does exactly. 
Life is too short for a man to wait for the forest to grow and enrich a piece 
of land for him ; he must get the same results in a far quicker manner. Get- 
ting a hint from nature's methods, we can do all that she does, and do it in 
a very brief time compared with her work. That the soil has not been ex- 
hausted as was thought, is shown by the fact that the forest grows readily on 
this land when it is left to its own resources. It had simply declined to give 

The Soil— 43 

up its plant food as rapidly as we needed it for crops, but was still in condi- 
tion to gradually give it up to the slower demands of the forest. The fact 
is, that no land, originally fertile, and of good mechanical composition, is 
ever worn out. It may be brought into a very unproductive condition, and 
its mechanical condition be made unfavorable to the production of crops, but 
it will still have the matters in it that can be made available. By proper 
tillage and the use of restorative crops, such soils can be restored to their 
original productiveness through their own resources. The process of restor- 
ing such soils in this way would be too slow for our modern ideas, and hence 
the soluble matters used in a concentrated form as fertilizers have their 
legitimate use in the upbuilding of the modern farm. 

In many cases the soil has simply been robbed of the humus or vegetable 
decay, and is still as rich in mineral plant food as ever, but its mechanical 
condition is such that plants cannot thrive in it as they did. 

The soil runs together and bakes hard after rains, and the cost of tillage 
is greatly increased, while the productiveness of the land has decreased. It 
simply needs a restoration of the black humus that made it mellow and re- 
tentive of moisture, and rendered the plant food in it more available. 

There are many soils called worn out which never had much to wear out. 
A little accumulation of vegetable matter on top of a deep sand was soon used 
up, and a blowing sand is the result. Such soils had far better be left to 
pine and scrub oak. 

Thousands of American farmers find themselves confronted by the prob- 
lem of "worn out" lands,, and how to restore them to productiveness, and it is 
with the hope of aiding them in the solution of the problem in an economical 
manner that this book has been written. 


There are in many sections of the country, large areas of land originally 
fertile and productive, which would have remained permanently productive, 
had they been properly managed. Their condition is due largely to the fact 
that life has abandoned them, because the low forms of plant life that carry 
on the changes in the soil and make plant food available, have been starved 
out, and no addition simply of concentrated plant foods will take the place of 
the foods on which the bacteria of nitrification exist. When these lands were 
cleared from the forest, or l)roken from the prairie sod, they were full of the 
black decay of organic matter. They were retentive of moisture and gave up 
their plant food to the cultivator in abundant crops. Year after year the 
process was repeated and the soil robbed, j^o steps were taken to keep up 

44 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

the amount of the black humus that made the soil originally productive, and 
gradually it was used up. The minute organisms, whose life is spent in the 
transformation of this organic matter into forms adapted to the use of crops, 
perish by reason of the burning up of the humus. There is nothing for them 
to work upon. The soil runs together and bakes under the influence of the 
rains, and rapidly dries out, so that there is a lack of moisture for the solu- 
tion of the plant food it contains. The oxidizing influence of the air fails to 
penetrate the compact soil, and though it still contains all the plant food 
needed for big crops, it becomes an unproductive soil because plants can no 
longer get what the soil has for them in abundance. It is a dead soil. And 
all over the land one sees these dead soils, made so not only by the using up 
of the humus but by the settling of the soil into a sour mass ; where formerly 
it hardly needed drainage, now it is sour, not from lack of food but from 
lack of the ability of the air to penetrate and mellow it. That humus may 
not have had in it nearly the amount of plant food that still remains in the 
soil, but it was the preservative agent in the soil, the only thing that kept 
life there, and its absence means death to soil and crops. One of the most 
thoughtless advocates of commercial fertilizers some time ago said in print: 
"Give humus a rest, we can get along without it if we have plenty of soluble 
fertilizers for our crops." All over the country, and especially 
in the South, farmers have been giving humus a rest, and 
their lands have become less and less productive, notwithstanding 
the millions of dollars' worth of commercial fertilizers they use 
upon them in the vain hope that they will take the place of permanent fer- 
tility. If the worn soils are ever to be redeemed it must be through the get- 
ting back there of that bacterial life that carries on the changes in organic 
decay, and these can only exist when there is this organic decay present. A 
soil fllled with bacterial life is really a living soil and a fertile one, while one 
without it will always be less productive. It will be less productive, not only 
by reason of the absence of the organisms that release nitrogen in the soil, but 
by reason of its smaller power to retain moisture and heat and to dissolve the 
plant foods applied in the fertilizers. Last summer we applied a dressing of 
fertilizer to a crop of sweet potatoes on some of this dead land. The summer 
was extremely dry, and when the potatoes were dug the crop was only such as 
.the soil would have made alone, for the fertilizer was lying there as dry as 
when applied. On another piece where the humus had been to some extent 
restored, the fertilizer acted well, simply because there was moisture retained 
there to dissolve it, and the plants got it. If there were no living organisms 
to help us in this humus, its mechanical effect would alone give it sufficient 
value to warrant every effort to retain and increase it. 

The Soil — 45 


When men first began to be interested in the chemical composition of 
soils, and the improvement of their productive capacity, they jumped to the 
conclusion that a chemical analysis, would show them just what was lacking; 
and by adding this they could restore the soil to its original productive 
character. But chemical analysis at once showed them that there may exist 
very large quantities of all the needed plant foods and yet the soil remain in 
a very unproductive state, owing to the fact that the plant food it contains 
is in a condition insoluble in the soil-water, and, as the plants cannot take 
anything through their roots that is not completely dissolved in the soil- 
water, they starve in the midst of potential plenty. Therefore, while soil 
analysis has its use, it can never be depended upon to tell the farmer just 
what his soil needs to render it productive, so far as the food supply is con- 
cerned. The fact is, too, that soils vary widely within narrow areas, and an 
analysis of the soil from one portion of a field will not give a correct idea of 
the nature of the soil in another portion. As the uselessness of soil analyses 
became apparent men began to study the needs of plants, and the way in 
which different crops use the food elements. While all plants use the same 
kinds of food from the soil, they use them in varying proportions, one needing 
more nitrogen, or more phosphoric acid, or more potash than another. Acting 
on the belief that from the analysis of the plant we could accordingly propor- 
tion the different plant-food elements for each crop, the manufacturers of 
fertilizers began to make what are known as special fertilizers, and recom- 
mended one for one crop and another for another. There seemed to be a rea- 
sonable basis for such notions, but really there is not such a serious difference 
after all, in the manurial requirements of plants, while there is a wide dif- 
ference in the manurial requirements of soils. 

If chemical analysis, then, will not materially help us in deciding what 
our soils need, how are we to ascertain what we should apply and what we 
need not buy? All farmers know that without some such knowledge they 
are likely to be wasting money in the purchase of matters that they do not 
need on their land. This is a matter which every farmer must find out for 
himself, and no one can find it for him elsewhere than right on his own farm. 

Hence every farmer should be, to some extent, an experimenter. He 
must experiment with his land not only to discover its food needs, but also 
to find whether through imperfect preparation and imperfect drainage he 
is not obliged to buy plant food which he does not need at all. Of the 
methods of this experimentation we will treat in detail elsewhere. First let 
us see what things are essential in the soil in order that plants may grow. 


We have already seen that by far the larger part of the bulk of the plant 
comes from the air, through the assimilation of carbon by the green leaves. 
By burning the plant we drive this off into the air again, and with it also the 
nitrogen, which came to the plant from the soil, but originally was derived 
by the soil from the air. 

What we have left in our ashes shows the mineral matters that were 
derived from the soil. Chemical analysis shows us what these were. We 
find that the ash consists of various combinations of what are known as 
elements. An element is matter reduced to its final form, or something in 
which we can find nothing else of a different nature. These elements are 
cither metallic or non-metallic. The element nitrogen, for instance, is 
a gas existing, as we have seen, in all air. Iron is a metallic element. None 
of the elements are used by plants as pure elements. Nitrogen must be 
gotten into the soil in combination with something else to hold it there and 
render it soluble in the soil-water so that plants can take it up, for the ordi- 
nary green plants cannot use the free nitrogen gas. Nor can they use a metal 
like iron, until it is acted upon by the acids and made into an oxide or a 
sulphate, and even then they use very little of it. It has been found by care- 
fully conducted experiments that plants cannot grow without a supply in the 
soil of some combination of the following elements: Nitrogen, potassium, 
magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorus and sulphur. As we have already 
said, while iron is essential, it is used in very small quantities, and all soils 
in which plants make green leaves will be found to contain an abundance of 
iron. Magnesium and calcium (the element from which lime is formed) are 
also generally in abundance for all the needs of them as plant food direct. 
Of the further use of lime we will speak more fully hereafter. 


Plant Food — 47 

The elements which become deficient in the soil through long cultivation 
and the removal of crops are nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Any 
one familiar with the composition of conmiercial fertilizers knows that it is 
these elements in some combination which give them value. 

Nitrogen must be changed into the form of nitrate; that is, some combi- 
nation of nitric acid with lime or potash, making a neutral salt, before green- 
leaved plants can take it as food. Potassium must be changed by oxidation 
into potash in order that it may be dissolved in the soil-water. Phosphorus 
must be in the form of phosphoric acid, for the element phosphorus burns 
up at once on exposure to the air. It is generally combined with calcium, 
making the phosphate of lime, an insoluble compound, which is rendered 
soluble by sulphuric acid; and thus gives us a superphosphate of lime, which 
is available to plant life. 

Phosphoric acid is a compound of phosphorus, oxygen and hydrogen, 
but in phosphates the metallic bases replace the hydrogen. Nitrification, or 
the transformation of organic matter into nitrates so that green plants can 
get nitrogen, is carried on by minute organisms in the soil, and the life of 
these organisms depends on the presence of the organic matter in the soil; 
making it, as we have seen, a living, rather than a dead soil. Of this process 
of nitrification we will treat more fully further on. 



Nitrogen, as we have seen, is a gaseous substance which makes up for- 
fifths of the atmosphere, mingling with and diluting the oxygen so that it can 
be breathed, but never combining with it under ordinary conditions. It is 
the oxygen of the air upon which animals depend for respiration, but it must 
be diluted for this purpose, and hence the nitrogen is mixed with it, though 
nitrogen takes no part itself in respiration. Plants even, which need nitrogen 
as food, will die if confined in nitrogen gas alone. Ammonia is a hydrate 
of nitrogen which acts as a base in connection with acids. Thus with sul- 
phuric acid it forms the sulphate of ammonia, with car])onic acid, the car- 
bonate of ammonia, which is the ammonia we smell so strongly escaping from 
a heating manure pile exposed to the weather. Manufacturers of fertilizers 
always like to print the percentage of ammonia on their l)ags rather than that 
of the actual nitrogen, as the figures look larger. When you find the per- 
centage of ammonia thus on a bag you can get the true amount of nitrogen by 
multiplying the ammonia per cent, by 0.8235. Thus if the bag has 2 per 
cent, ammonia printed on it, this means that there is but 1.647 per cent of 
actual nitrogen. 

The source from which the nitrogen comes is a very important matter to 
the purchaser of the fertilizer, since chemical analysis may show that there is 
a large percentage of nitrogen present, but at the same time it may be almost 
entirely useless because in an unavailable form, and all that chemical analysis 
can tell you is that it is there. Hence it is important to know from what 



Sources of Fertilizing Materials — 49 

source the nitrogen is obtained. Pulverized leather scraps, hoofs, horn 
shavings, hair, will show on analysis a good percentage of nitrogen, but in 
such a form that plants cannot use it, being insoluble. Hence the source of 
the nitrogen is, perhaps, of more importance than the actual amount. 

There is at all times a very small and uncertain amount of nitrogen in 
the form of ammonia in the air. It is believed that plants do, to some extent, 
absorb some of the ammonia, but it has never been proved that they do. 
But there are varying amounts brought to the soil and within reach of the 
roots in the rain water. Then, too, during thunder storms, some of the 
nitrogen of the air is converted by electricity into nitrous acid, 
which is further transformed into nitric acid, and this in the 
soil forms the nitrates of lime, magnesia and other bases. It has been stated 
that this formation of nitric acid in the air is the only source of the combined 
nitrogen in the earth, but later studies of the work of soil bacteria have 
developed the fact that there are other and more powerful agencies at work 
in the getting of the free nitrogen into a form that plants can use. It has 
been estimated that in this country about six pounds per acre of nitrogen 
are brought to the soil annually in the rainfall, in the forms of ammonia and 
nitric acid. 

But the greatest source of the nitrogen in the soil is in the black, organic 
decay which we call humus. A soil well filled with the decay of plant and 
animal life will have a large nitrogen content, while a soil from which all the 
humus has been used up, or burnt out, will have very little nitrogen. This 
accounts for the superior fertility of freshly cleared land. It is true that the 
nitrogen contained in the humus is not at once in a condition to serve as plant 
food, but it furnishes food for millions of microscopic plants known as bac- 
teria, which are the means of carrying on the process called nitrification, 
through which the organic matter is broken down and its ammonia changed 
into nitrites and then into nitrates, which last is the form in 
which green plants can use it. A soil, then, which contains a 
large percentage of humus may be properly called a living soil, 
while one in which there is no humus", and from which the 
nitrifying bacteria have been starved out and have died, may be well called 
a dead soil. Nitrogen is an essential element in all living matter and the 
absence of nitrogen means death either in animals or plants. 

From whence, then, are we to get the various combinations of nitrogen 
needed in our complete fertilizers? It is always the element that gets away 
from us most rapidly in the soil, for if it is not taken up by plants when it 
gets into the available form of a nitrate, it quickly leaches away from the soil, 
and therefore we need to frequently renew the nitrogen in the soil. 

50 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding- 

All organic matter, as we have seen, contains nitrogen. But this can only 
be used by plants after the substance has completely decayed and the soil 
bacteria have transformed it into a nitrate. The rapidity, then, with which 
any organic matter decays, determines its value in plant feeding. Some 
forms, as we have noted, such as leather scraps, horn meal, etc., decay so very 
slowly that their nitrogen is of little use to plants, while other forms decay 
rapidly and soon come into an available shape. 

Pulverized fish scraps from the fish oil factories along the coast, or from 
the refuse of the fish canning houses, form a valuable source of organic 
nitrogen. The article made by the regular fish oil factories along the 
Atlantic coast is a richer article than that made from the refuse of the pack- 
ing houses, since the whole of the fish, after the oil is extracted, goes into the 
scrap, which is ground from the pressed cake. In some sections there are 
other refuse matters from the sea used in the making of fertilizers, such as 
crabs, but this cuts a very small figure in the general market and is available 
to few. 

One of the very best sources of organic nitrogen is the blood from the great 
abbatoirs, or slaughter houses, where animal products are packed for com- 
merce. It is not only rich in nitrogen, but it is in a form that decays very 
rapidly in the soil, and soon reaches an available form. It is important, 
however, to note the character of the dried blood offered for sale, since it may 
contain all the way from 6 to 14 or 15 per cent, of nitrogen. The best 
grade is always of a red color. If black, it shows that it has been charred in 
the drying, and has assumed more the character of leather, hence is less 
readily decayed, and has lost some nitrogen. 

Probably the cheapest form in which organic nitrogen can be bought, 
at least in the South, is in cotton seed meal. This contains between 6 and 7 
per cent, of nitrogen, and a smaller percentage of phosphoric acid and potash. 
The exact percentages will be found in the table of analyses of the various 
fertilizing materials, given elsewhere. It is now largely used as a food for 
cattle, and when used in small quantities, in connection with carbonaceous 
foods, forms a valuable part of a ration. But there is a practice becoming 
common in the South, of feeding cattle on a ration entirely of cotton seed 
meal and cotton seed hulls, which is mischievous, resulting in very 
inferior beef, and in butter but little better than oleomargarine. Properly 
used the cotton seed meal is a valuable addition to a food ration, and it is only 
the bad method which I have uniformly opposed. 

Cotton seed meal decays rapidly in the soil, soon becomes nitrified and 
available to plants. In some parts of the country linseed meal is used to 
some extent as a fertilizer, but as a rule the price is prohibitive for this pur- 

Sources of Fertilizing Materials — 51 

pose ; it should be used only as a stock food, and thus enrich the home-made 

Castor pomace is a valuable source of nitrogen in limited localities. It 
usually contains nearly 6 per cent, of nitrogen, decays rapidly in the soil and 
is soon available as plant food. 

Another product of the great western slaughter houses is tankage. This 
is composed of the dried and pulverized waste matters from the slaughtering 
of animals, and is of a very varying nature. One form of the more concen- 
trated t^mkage may contain as much as 12 or more per cent, of nitrogen, while 
other samples will not have more than 4 to 5 per cent, of nitrogen, but a 
larger percentage of phosphoric acid than the concentrated form. The price 
of tankage, of course, varies with its composition, and a low-priced article is 
always one that has the least percentage of nitrogen. It is, therefore, im- 
portant to look after the analysis claimed for each sample. 

About the most worthless form in which one can get organic nitrogen 
is in the meal made from leather scraps. Analysis will show that this con- 
tains a large percentage of nitrogen, yet it is almost worthless to the farmer, 
since the leather so long resists decay in the soil. The making of a fertilizer 
in which leather is used as a source of nitrogen, should be looked upon simply 
as a fraud. In the same class should be placed wool and hair waste, which 
can only be made available by dissolving in sulphuric acid. 

From the fat rendering establishments, where the dead animals from the 
large cities are utilized, there comes dried meat; which has value for nitrogen 
nearly as high as that of the dried blood from the slaughter houses. 

Formerly there was a rich deposit of natural guano with a very high per- 
centage of nitrogen on the Chincha Islands, on the coast of Peru. But this 
was long ago exhausted, and though we have occasionally so-called Peruvian 
guano offered for sale, it is far inferior to the old article; as it comes from 
localities where rain has washed out a large part of the nitrogen, and consists 
mainly of insoluble phosphate of lime. The exhaustion of the old Peruvian 
guano beds gave the first great impulse to the manufacture of commercial fer- 
tilizers, so that now the natural guanos make little show on the market, and 
being largely of a phosphatic nature are mainly used by the manufacturers of 

When any of these organic matters, containing nitrogen, decay, the first 
result is the formation of the hydride of nitrogen, or ammonia, from the com- 
bination of hydrogen and nitrogen. But green leaved plants, as a rule, do 
not use nitrogen in the form of ammonia. The bacteria in the soil which 
bring about what is known as nitrification, break down the ammonia and form 
the nitrogen into a nitrite. Another form of bacteria then takes up the work 

52 — Crop Growing and Crop Fefding 

and transforms the nitrite into a nitrate, which is the form in which green 
leaved plants use nitrogen. Ammonia is manufactured as a by product in the 
making of illuminating gas, and also in the manufacture of bone charcoal 
for the sugar refiners. This is the source of the article in commerce known 
as the sulphate of ammonia. Large quantities are now made also in the 
manufacture of coke for the iron furnaces. In the sulphate the ammonia is 
in a very concentrated form, and will probably become more largely used 
as the price is reduced ; though with many plants is seems at times to exert a 
poisonous influence. It is common to say that cotton seed meal and other 
organic matters have a certain percentage of ammonia, but there is really no 
ammonia there until the organic matter has decayed and the combination of 
the nitrogen has been made with the hydrogen. The more correct way would 
be to give the percentage of nitrogen in the matter which forms ammonia 
in decaying. But, as we have said, the figures for ammonia look larger, and 
hence manufacturers like to put it as ammonia in their claims. Pure sul- 
phate of ammonia contains 21.2 per cent, of nitrogen. 

In recent years there have been large discoveries of nitrogen in the form 
of a nitrate of soda, which is formed in large masses in certain parts of the 
western coast of South America where no rain falls. This is now probably 
the cheapest source of nitrogen for fertilizing purposes. We have seen that 
green leaved plants use nitrogen in the form of a nitrate, and that the organic 
nitrogen must be changed into this form in the soil before they use it. The 
nitrate of soda being already in the nitrate form is at once available for plant 
food. As it rapidly leaches from the soil in the rainfall this form should 
only be used while plants are in active growth. If applied during the 
dormant season much if not all of it will be lost by leaching. In making a 
complete fertilizer mixture, if nitrate of soda is used, it should always be ac- 
companied by a due proportion of organic nitrogen to continue the supply 
after the nitrate is used up. 

The nitrate is useful in the first growth of the plant while the nitrifica- 
tion of the organic matter is going on, as it is immediately soluble and quite 
concentrated. It is often sold under the name of Chili saltpetre, (ordinary 
saltpetre being the nitrate of potash) and contains from 15 to Ifi per cent, 
of nitrogen. Professor Voorhees, in his book on fertilizers, well fiays that 
"The practical point, and the one of prime importance to the farmer, is, then, 
to know how to estimate the relative value or usefulness of these different 
products, what is the rate of availability as compared with the nitrate, and 
thus the relative advantage of purchasing the one or the other, at the ruling 
market prices. Relative values, however, cannot be assigned as yet, though 
careful studies of the problem have been made, chiefly by what are known as 

Sources of Fertilizing Materials — 53 

*vegetation tests'; that is, tests which show the actual amounts of nitrogen 
that plants can obtain from nitrogenous products of diiferent kinds, when 
grown under known and controlled conditions. The results so far obtained, 
while only serving as a guide, indicate that when nitrate is rated at 100 per 
cent, blood and cotton seed meal are about 70 per cent., dried and ground 
fish and hoof meal 65 per cent., bone and tankage 60 per cent., and leather, 
ground horn and wool waste as low as 2 per cent, to as high as 30 per cent. 
These figures furnish a fair l)asis for comparing the different materials, when 
used for the same purpose. If, for example, the increased yield of oats due 
to the application of nitrate of soda is 1,000 pounds, the yield from blood 
and cotton seed meal would be 700 pounds, the yield from dried ground fish 
and hoof meal would be 650 pounds, from bone and tankage 600 pounds, and 
from leather, ground horn and wool waste from 20 to 300 pounds." As re- 
gards the last we are of the opinion that the increase would be nearer nothing 
at all. 

While these figures may ^e useful, we would suggest that the cultivator 
cannot depend upon the same results in practice for the varying conditions 
under which the plant food is applied, and the atmospheric condition after 
the application, might easily make the soluble nitrate the least productive. 
The practice of all good cultivators is to use the nitrate to some extent in a 
complete fertilizer mixture, but to place the main reliance for nitrogen for 
the crop upon the organic forms, since all of the nitrate of soda that is not 
used at once is rapidly lost to the soil and plants, and the cultivator who de- 
pends for nitrogen on the nitrate alone will often be disappointed in the 

In a number of experiments made at different Stations it has been shown 
that sulphate of ammonia, in a mixed fertilizer with the muriate of potash, 
acts as a plant poison. In fact, in certain conditions of the soil, it seems that 
sulphate of ammonia is about as likely to do harm to the crop as to benefit it. 
Even when the sulphate of ammonia is simply mixed with stable manure it 
has given decidedly injurious effects. When mixed with the muriate of 
potash there is a combination of the chemicals and the chloride of ammonia 
is formed, which is injurious to vegetation. Another source of organic nitro- 
gen which is available to the farmers in some localities, is the sea weed which 
accumulates on the sea beach after storms, and which is largely used by the 
farmers near the ocean. The sea weeds decay rapidly and furnish large per- 
centages of nitrogen and potash, but are lacking in phosphoric acid. They 
are so rich in potash that some authorities rank them among potassic manures, 
and when mixed with a due percentage of phosphates they furnish a fairly 
complete fertilizer. One great advantage in the use of sea weeds is the fact 

54 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

that they bring to the soil no weed seeds. The salt which they contain may 
act as a solvent of matters in the soil of value to plant life, and be to some 
extent serviceable in destroying fungi and insects in the soil. 


The greatest source of organic nitrogen on the farm is, of course, the 
manure made from the droppings of domestic animals. The care and proper 
use of the home-made deposit lies at the very foundation of successful farm- 
ing. No purchase of commercial fertilizers can fully atone financially for a 
waste of this home-made article. And yet there is no one thing on the farm 
generally so badly managed, and subjected to so much waste, as the barnyard 
and stable manure. It has been estimated that if the manure annually pro- 
duced by all the domestic animals kept in the United States was properly 
saved, its total value would be over two thousand millions of dollars. Prof. 
Roberts of Cornell has estimated that on a farm on which are kept 4 horses, 30 
cows, 50 sheep and 10 pigs, there should be produced during seven months of 
the winter and colder part of the year at least $250 worth of manure, valuing 
it at the rate paid for phosphoric acid, potash and nitrogen in commercial 
fertilizers. And it is further estimated that one-third of the value of all the 
manure made is annually lost through bad management. This means an 
annual loss of nearly seven hundred millions of dollars in the United States, 
or an average annual loss on each farm of $83.33. This means that to keep 
up the waste made from selling crops this loss makes necessary the purchase 
of that much more of plant food to replace the loss, if fertility is to be main- 
tained. Every ton of hay sold from the farm removes plant food to the value 
of $5.10 if bought in a commercial fertilizer. Every ton of wheat carries 
ott from the farm plant food to the value of $7.75. Or, as Dr. Armsby has 
said, "A farmer who sells, for example, $10 worth of wheat sells with it about 
$2,58 worth of the fertility of his soil. In other words, when he receives his 
$1 this amount does not represent the net receipts of the transaction, for he 
has parted with $2.58 of his capital, that is, of the stored up fertility 
of his soil ; and if he does not take this into account he makes the same mis- 
take a merchant would should he estimate his profits by the amount of cash 
which he received and neglect to take an account of stock." But if, instead 
of selling all the products of the farm, a large part is retained and fed thereon 
to animals and the droppings carefully saved, a large part of this fertility is 
retained on the farm. Then, too, where the entire product of a farm is not 
only fed upon it, l)ut some food which was grown on other land is purchased 
for animals, the farm may be kept improving without the purchase of plant 

Sources of Fertilizing Material — 55 

food in any other way. Such, however, can seldom be the case except in 
limited localities where the butter dairy is the sole business. 

Hence, in the great majority of cases, it is necessary to supplement the 
home-made accumulation with commercial fertilizers. But the farmer who 
neglects to save and care for in the best manner all the home-made manure 
is neglecting the true source of riches on the farm. A great deal of the 
neglect of home-made manure has doubtless arisen from the ease with which 
fertilizers can be gotten on the market, and over large portions of the country, 
especially in the Cotton States, there has been an utter neglect of stock feed- 
ing, and an entire dependence on the commercial fertilizers. Year after 
year the same crop is planted on the same land, and the chances are taken 
as to the result from the dribbling of a little fertilizer in the furrows. This 
gambling in fertilizers has brought ruin to many a fair acre in the South, 
where proper farming and the feeding of cattle would have brought fertility 
and riches to soil and farmer. The constant use of commercial fertilizers on 
the soil, and the clean culture of the crop, has robbed the soil of its humus, 
and put it into a bad mechanical condition, in which the fertilizers no longer 
have the power to produce the results they would under difEerent soil condi- 
tions. One of the greatest values of barnyard manure is in the humus-making 
material combined in it, which makes it more retentive of moisture, improves 
its mechanical condition, and furnishes food for the microscopic plants that 
carry on the process of nitrification in the soil and prevent its becoming 
a dead soil. Into this lifeless condition much of the cotton land of the South 
has now been changed, and men say "we cannot grow good crops because our 
land is poor," when it is poor farming which has made it poor. If the farm 
ever was fertile, the acknowledgement that it is now poor is evidence that the 
owner is responsible for its condition. 

But there are various qualities of the farm manure as well as of commer- 
cial fertilizers. Manure from half starved animals and those fed on low 
grade foods that merely serve to keep life in them, has very little value. The 
quality of the manure made varies with the quality of the food fed. Rich 
food makes rich manure, and vice versa. The dried excrement of horses and 
cattle is nearly one-half the amount of the dry food consumed. One hundred 
pounds of dry matter in the food consumed by horses will make 210 pounds 
of manure, containing 77.5 pounds of moisture. Add to this the weight of 
the bedding, about six and one-half pounds per day, in order to get the total 
amount of the manure. It has l)cen estimated that a well fed work horse 
will produce 50 pounds of manure per day, or six and a half tons per year, 
that can be saved. The manure of cows and neat cattle will contain on an 
average 87.5 per cent, of water. A steer, woi Thing 1,000 pounds and con- 

56 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

suming 27 pounds of dry matter per day, would produce about 20 tons of 
manure a year. A sheep will produce about three-fourths of a ton of manure 
yearly, and a pig from two to three tons. The following table gives the 
analysis of the varioiis manures and their value per ton: 



Phos. Acid 


per ton 




59.52 per cent. 
77.73 per cent. 
74.13 per cent. 
75.25 per cent. 
48.69 per cent. 
56.00 per cent. 

0.768 per cent. 
0.497 per cent. 
0.840 per cent. 
0.426 per cent. 
0.490 per cent. 
0.80 to 2 per 

0.391 per cent. 
0.172 per cent. 
0.390 per cent. 
0.290 per cent. 
0.260 per cent. 
0.50 to 2 per 

0.591 per cent. 
0.532 per cent. 
0.320 per cent. 
0.440 per cent. 
0.480 per cent. 
0.80 to 0.90 
per cent. 







These figures will not represent the value of ordinary manure allowed to 
leach away its value under the eaves, but of manure from highly fed animals, 
carefully preserved, liquid and solid, and protected from rain and firing. 
The urine is the most valuable part of the excrement of animals. The solid 
manure contains the undigested part of the food, and matter that is in a more 
or less insoluble state, while the urine contains the matters that have been 
fully digested and which arc in a soluble condition. The composition of the 
urine, like that of the solid portion, varies with the age of the animals and 
the quality of the food consumed. There is a far higher percentage of nitro- 
gen in the urine and less phosphoric acid. In fact, the urine of horses and 
cattle contains hardly any at all. But it abounds in potash and soda. It is 
always best to use it mixed with the solid manure, which contains phosphates. 
Water that has leached from a pile of mixed manure is always a better fertil- 
izer than urine alone, as it has taken up the phosphates with the other con- 
stituents. As we have said, the composition of the manure depends largely 
on the kind of food used. If the food is of a nitrogenous nature and is easily 
digested, the nitrogen in the urine will greatly predominate; but if the food 
is imperfectly digested, the larger percentage may be in the solid dung. A 
horse fed on poor hay will show more nitrogen in the dung than in the urine. 
But a small portion of the nitrogen, phosphoric acid and potash supplied in 
the food is assimilated and retained in the animal body. Hence the value 
of the manure depends very largely on the nitrogen content of the food and 
its richness in the other forms of plant food. With animals which have com- 
pleted their growth and made their bony skeleton, and which are simply hold- 
ing their own as regards weight, neither losing nor gaining, the manurial con- 
stituents of the food are practically all returned in the manure. Figuring 

Sources of Fertilizing Materials — 57 

from this base, it has been shown that the manure from feeding a ton of wheat 
bran will have a value of $12.50, and fed to milch cows will have 75 per cent, 
of this value. While no such value is ever recovered, even with the best treat- 
ment of the manure, these figures show the importance of the best care, since 
the most costly part, the nitrogen, gets away so rapidly. The chief value of 
the home-made manure is in the nitrogen it contains, and in the capacity 
it has for the nitrification of its organic matter in the soil. It is this organic 
matter in the stable and barnyard manure which gives it its chief advantage 
over the commercial fertilizers. We can get nitrogen in a far more available 
form in the fertilizers, but will lose the beneficial mechanical effect of the 
organic matter in the manure. Still, although admitting the great value of 
the home-made manure as a source of nitrogen, and the importance of saving 
it in the best manner, I have long been of the opinion that there is too much 
of a disposition on the part of some writers to make a sort of fetich of a 
manure heap, and to advise the application of more labor than the manure 
is worth to the piling, turning and composting of manure. The manure of 
the farm, while a valuable thing, and an article not to be wasted, has not a 
value that will repay the putting of the amount of labor on it which some ad- 
vise. Take care of the manure, and get it as soon as possible, out on the land 
where plants are waiting to use it. On a farm on which a proper rotation is 
practiced there is always a place to spread the manure. In the North, where 
it is impracticable to haul out the manure during the winter months, the best 
way to save it is to have all animals in box stalls, or in covered barnyards, 
with plenty of litter, allow the manure to be packed down under foot, and let 
it remain undisturbed. In this condition it will not heat seriously and will 
lose less than in any other way. But, by all means, abandon the silly practice 
of throwing it out the stable windows, in piles, to heat and wash away in the 

The extent to which the keeping of live stock and the saving of manure 
is neglected in the South Atlantic Cotton States would be amazing to the 
farmers of the North and West, who have so long been brought up to consider 
Ihe feeding of stock and the handling of manure a necessary part of farm 
life. Thousands of cotton farms in this section have no stock on them but the 
mules that till the crop, and in many cases even the provender for these is 
bought and hauled to the place. There is evidence in many sections, how- 
ever, of improvement in this respect, and these conditions are usually found 
among the tenant "croppers" rather than among the farm owners. Still, the 
great need of the South Atlantic States is live stock. It has been stated by 
competent authority that the States of North and South Carolina grow three 
bales of cotton for every cow kept, while Texas, which produces the largest 

58 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

part of the cotton crop, raises three cows to every bale of cotton she produces. 
Until the farmers of the South Atlantic cotton country change all this and 
get to the same proportion between stock and cotton there will be no real 
and permanent advancement in the development of their agricultural capa- 
l)ilities. No matter how valuable and convenient the commercial fertilizers 
may be, nor how much they may accomplish for the improvement of the soil 
in the hands of the wise farmer, they will never, with the great mass of the 
farmers, avail as much for permanent improvement as home-made manures. 
The great evil connected with the failure to grow forage and feed live 
stock in the South, is the continuation of the ruinous credit system. If our 
farming was more diversified and systematic, and there was not that sole 
dependence on the cotton crop, which is still largely the case, notwithstanding 
the great improvement made in many places; there would be sources of in- 
come from the stock that would enable the farmer to get on a cash basis in 
his farming, and thus immensely reduce the cost of the cotton crop to the 
grower. In a section where the most valuable forage crop is at the same time 
a soil improver, and where nature has been lavish in the great variety of food 
crops that can be produced for the feeding of cattle and the accumulation of 
manure, the cities and towns are supplied with beef from the west simply 
because there are no cattle on the farms to make beef from. The cotton 
farmers are annually buying nitrogen in their fertilizers because they neglect 
the sources from which they could get nitrogen without money and without 
price ; and not only get it free of cost but make a profit in the getting of it. 
Millions of dollars are spent in the cotton states of the Atlantic border for 
nitrogen, which, if spent for live stock and the growing of the cow pea, would 
remain to bless the land with fertility and swell the purse of the farmer. 
While an individual may here and there be able to show a profit in his crops 
grown without the aid of the domestic animals ; the result on the community 
at large is poverty of soil and purse. Then, too, farm life without stock loses 
one of its chief attractions to the young, for boys, as a rule, are fond of ani- 
mals ; and if we want to keep the boys on the farm and to have them devote 
their energies to the improvement of the land, we must make homes instead 
of mere cotton fields, and a farm without cattle and other stock is far less 
homelike than one on which due attention is paid to these sources of profit 
and pleasure. We do not blame a boy for wanting to get away from a farm 
where he has only a mule to drive and a pair of wheels to ride on, and the 
greatest difficulty we have in inducing young men to study scientific agricul- 
ture lies in the fact that they have never seen any real farming done at home, 
and they have come to consider the life of the farm hopeless; so the young 
blood of the South, more than of any other section, is rushing away from the 

Sources of Fertilizing Materials — 59 

farm to the factories and workshops, and the men who should be the means 
of building up the waste places are abandoning the farms to desolation and 
the negro. If this book is instrumental in any way in inducing some of these 
farmers to adopt a different method, it will be well worth all the labor that 
has been expended upon it. 


While the saving and using of all the nitrogenous manures made on the 
farm is an important part of the farm economy, the farmer who farms intelli- 
gently and practices a proper rotation of crops, need never buy an ounce of 
nitrogen in any shape for the ordinary farm crops. In the case of the market 
gardener, on limited areas, and with crops of greater value, it is, of course, 
important to heavily fertilize his acres. But in grain and grass farming, 
the farmer who realizes what the legumes will do for him need never expend 
a penny for nitrogen, and in fact, can not only get all he needs without cost, 
l)ut can make a profit in the getting of it. And here is the main use that the 
farmer lias for the commercial fertilizers, to enable him better to practice the 
true method of acquiring the nitrogen that is so plentiful in the air, over 
every acre, in all localities. No part of the country has a monopoly of the 
agrial nitrogen. The air is just as rich over the poorest acre in the land as 
over the most fertile, and the farmer on the poor farm can get it just as 
readily as the man whose acres are already supplied with it. While nitrogen 
is an essential thing to plant life, and crops cannot be grown without it, it is 
the only element of plant-food that we can get without buying, and the one 
that costs the most when we do buy it in fertilizer. Then, when we can, by 
a proper course of culture, get this costly article which i^ so much needed, 
and can put money in our pockets while getting it, is it not passing strange 
that farmers should spend mpney for it? 


For many years farmers knew that in some mysterious way clover and other 
plants of the pea family, did not only furnish forage for feeding animals, 
but that the land was better for having grown the crop. Only within the 
past few years, have scientists studied closely the way in which these plants 
help the soil, and even yet very little is accurately known of the exact way in 
which the work is done. For our present purpose, however, it is enough to 
know that all the legumes have the power, by means of little microscopic 
plants, which inhabit ogrtain swellings or nodules on their roots, to get the 

60 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

free nitrogen of the air combined and stored in the form of organic matter in 
the soil. We will not enter into a discussion of the exact way in which they 
do it; the fact is that no one knows just how it is done. But it is enough for 
the farmer to know that it is done, and that he can, by the growing of these 
plants, get a supply of material in the soil, that in its decay will give nitrogen 
to the succeeding crop in abundance. But the very plants that do this nitro- 
gen catching for him, are the greediest of consumers of the other two im- 
portant elements of plant-food needed in most soils, phosphorus and potash. 
Wliile the careful saving and using of the farm yard manures is an important 
help in the getting of nitrogen in the soil, the manure is always in an insuffi- 
cient supply, and is poorer in the other elements than is desirable. Therefore, 
the most important elements which a farmer must buy in order to keep up the 
productivity of his soil, are phosphorus and potassium in some form. These 
are essential to the growth of all plants, and are especially serviceable in 
encouraging the growth of the legumes, and the enabling them to get more 
of the costly and fleeting nitrogen for us. The various experiment stations 
have done so much work in the study of the manurial requirements of plants, 
and the effects of fertilizers, that there has grown up an impression among 
farmers that for every crop planted, some complete mixture of fertilizers 
must be applied. There is no doubt that the annual application of commer- 
cial fertilizers will increase the crop usually grown; but true farming is 
the getting of good crops at the least margin of expense consistent with the 
keeping up and improving the condition of the soil. It is not merely growing 
big crops, but the most profitable crops, too. If a farmer spends $10 for a 
fertilizer that gives him $10 worth more corn, he is simply buying corn at 
the market price. He would better have left that $10 worth alone and bought 
it for less labor. 



The second important element in the nutrition of plants and the matur- 
ing of crops is phosphorus. This element, like the other elements which 
enter into the feeding of plants, is never used as a pare element, but always 
in the form of phosphoric acid. This is a highly oxidized compound of hy- 
drogen and phosphorus, and forms, with alkaline bases such as lime, etc., salts 
known as phosphates. The most commonly available form is the phosphate 
of lime. This is a large constituent of the bones of all animals, and is found 
in nature in the phosphatic rocks and coprolites. In the basic process of steel 
making, large amounts of phosphates are separated from the iron ore and left 
in the furnace slag, and this slag is one of the important sources of phosphoric 
acid for fertilizing purposes. In many of the sea islands where there 
is a heavy rainfall, the guano deposits have been largely composed of the 
phosphate of lime, the nitrogen having been washed away. Large 
deposits 01 phosphatic rock are found all along our South Atlantic 
coast, and in the i\Iississippi valley and elsewhere. The origin of these 
deposits has been a matter of much discussion among geologists. 
The idea .generally prevails among most farmers that these are the 
])etrified bones of extinct animals, l)ut this is far from being correct, 
though there are certainly many fossil remains found associated with 
the phosphatic rocks. Phosphatic guano is certainly the remains of the ex- 
crement and food refuse of sea birds, and coprolites and phosphatic nodules 
are thought to be the remains of animal excrement. But, whatever their 
origin, the importance of the deposits has long been recognized ; for the 
replenishing of our soils with phosphates is one of the greatest of the problems 
that confronts the cultivator, since in all cultivation, and in the raising of 
domestic animals, the phosphates are continually being removed from the 
farm. Unlike the nitrogen we cannot get phosphates. from the air, and there 
are but two ways in which the loss to the farm in phosphates carried off from 
it can be made good. We must either feed on the farm food grown elsewhere, 
or we must buy the phosphates when they are deficient. Inasmuch as the 
localities are few where the feeding of purchased food can be made a profitable 


62 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

part of the farm economy, the renewing of the phosphates in the soil becomes 
a very important matter. There has long been an impression among farmers 
that phosphoric acid from animal bones is more valuable than phosphoric 
acid from rock phosphates or other sources. But this is not the case. A 
superphosphate made from bones will contain some nitrogen, and hence, will 
have that additional value; but its phosphoric acid is not a whit different 
from the phosphoric acid from other sources. The only point of importance 
to the farmer is the percentage of the phosphoric acid -which is soluble in 
water, and is hence immediately available for plant feeding. In the natural 
state, the phosphoric acid of bones, rock or furnace slag is insoluble. Then if 
the rock is finely pulverized, and the bone (if finely pulverized), the bone will 
be the more quickly available of the two, because of the readiness with which 
it decays in the soil ; and the fact that the raw bone carries with it a consider- 
able percentage of nitrogen, while the phosphatic acid rock has none of this. 
But when treated with sulphuric acid and made soluble, the acid of the rock 
is just the same as the acid of the bones treated in the same way. But the 
prejudice in favor of the bones is such that it, is a common practice among 
the manufacturers of fertilizers to call their articles bone phosphate, Avhen, 
in fact, no bones have ever been used in its manufacture. 

The great source of the phosphates used in this country is the phosphatic 
rock mined from the land or dredged from the river beds in South Carolina. 
Large quantities are also mined in Florida, which are classified as "soft," 
"rock," "pebble" and "bowlder" phosphates. There are also "apatites" from 
Canada, and a very fine quality of phosphatic rock from Tennessee, and re- 
cently a deposit has been found in the Juniata valley in Pennsylvania. 

When treated with sulphuric acid to render them soluble these are known 
as acid phosphate, and this forms almost the entire source of the phosphoric 
acid used in the making of fertilizers, though some are still made from the 
refuse bone charcoal which has been used in the refining of sugar. A minor 
source, as we have said, is the slag from the manufacture of steel by the 
basic process. This is known as "basic slag," "Thomas slag" and "odorless 
phosphate." The quantity produced in this country of this last, is yet too 
small to have any great effect on the market. Much of the tankage from the 
Western slaughter houses has large percentages of bone associated with the 
nitrogenous matters, and this, too, is frequently treated with acid to render 
it soluble. Untreated tankage is more valuable for its nitrogen than its phos- 
phoric acid. Bones are also some times steamed, by which means a large 
part of the nitrogen is extracted, which has the effect of increasing the 
percentage of phosphoric acid in the product. Steamed bone may contain as 
much as 28 per cent, of phosphoric acid and very little, if any, nitrogen. It 

Phosphorus, Its Sources and Use in Plant Feeding — 63 

will, therefore, have a larger percentage of phosphoric acid than raw bone 
meal, but far less nitrogen ; and if the phosphoric acid is what we are after, 
the steamed l)oue is better than the raw, and the absence of nitrogen should 
jnake it cheapiT. But it must be remembered that the phosphoric acid is not 
in an immediately soluble condition, though through the rapid decay of the 
bone it may soon become so. 

The Florida soft phosphates are riot available .n the manufcture of 
acid phosphates, and hence, many efforts have been made to get farmers to 
use them in an untreated state. An article called "Natural Plant Food," 
was some time ago largely advertised. This consisted almost entirely of the 
Florida soft phosphates, with some insoluble potash, such as is found in the 
green sand marl of New Jersey. It has been found that on a soil abounding 
in humus, and in an acid condition, the pulverized phosphatic rock sold under 
the name of "floats" acts very well, especially on clover and other legumes, 
but that liming the soil, which helps the success of the clover, renders the 
phosphate less effective. In some stations the insoluble phosphoric acid is 
given no value whatever, while at other stations it is rated at 2 cts. per pound, 
^vith the soluble at four and a half cents. What we wish particularly to 
impress upon the farmer, is the fact that phosphoric acid from any source is 
identically the same thing, and the only question that concerns him is what 
percentage of the article is in a soluble state, for it is this which is to give him 
immediate results in the crop. 


We have stated that phosphoric acid is one and the same thing no matter 
from what source it comes, and that the only thing to regard is the percentage 
of soluble acid. On this point the investigations of the Massachusetts Exper- 
iment Station show the following conclusions: 

1. The superior VALUE which has hitherto been accorded to undis- 
solved bone meal as a fertilizer is due solely to the nitrogen it contains. 

2. Undissolved bone meal, as a phosphate fertilizer, is no more valuable 
than the raw mineral phosphates (floats) . 

3. Hereafter it must be classed with the latter, rather than with the 
high grade phosphates containing available phosphoric acid. 

4. As a phosphate fertilizer it yields no better results than the mineral 
phosphates, • whether tried alone or with superphosphate, on loams or sandy 
soils, on soils rich or poor in phosphoric acid, whether with grains or with 
turnips, mustard or other cruciferous plants ; either in the first or second crop. 

5. The various kinds of bone meal show no essential difference in these 
results. In experiments made by Wagner at Darmstadt, Germany, the phos- 

Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

phoric acid in the form of acid phosphate gave 100 pounds in the crop to 
every 59 pounds from the Thomas slag, and 8 pounds from the same quantity 
of bone meal, and in three years the results from the bone meal application 
were only 17 per cent of those from the acid phosphate. It has been argued 
by those who favor the use of bone meal that, while not so immediately availa- 
ble, the after results would more than make up for it. Wagner shows that 
even after three years it only reached to 17 per cent, of the crop produced at 
the same time from soluble phosphoric acid. This is an important matter to 
the farmer, since bone meal is a far more costly article than superphosphate. 
Aside from the fact of the slow availability of the phosphoric acid in 
bone meal, there is the further fact that it is very hard to get a perfectly 
pure bone meal except in States where the inspection is very rigid. The 
writer once passed an establishment in a large Eastern seaboard city, where 
the sign announced "pure bone meal." There was a "no admittance" sign 
at the door, but hearing machinery in operation I ventured to peep in. An 
Irishman who was tending a machine grinding oyster shells warned me to 
keep out, but I had seen all that I was after, and noted the place as one to 
avoid in buying bone. 


These names, and also the name "odorless phosphate" are applied to the 
phosphate obtained from the slag made in the process of making steel by 
what is known as the basic process. There is not enough of it made in this 
country for it to compete with the rock phosphates. The article is reduced 
to a fine powder and is not treated with acid. It contains usually about 20 
per cent, of phosphoric acid in the form of phosphate of lime, or the same 
form in which it is found in the pulverized phosphate rock. Whether the 
phosphoric acid in this slag meal is any more readily available than that in 
the pulverized phosphate rock, or "floats," is a matter not as yet well settled. 
In most of the country the rock phosphates are cheaper. 


The name marl is applied to certain earthy deposits which are found 
along our Atlantic coast. These vary in composition from those consisting 
almost entirely of the carbonate of lime from the decomposition of marine 
shells to those like the green sand of new Jersey and the Virginia marls, some 
of which contain notable percentages of phosphoric acid and some pot- 
ash. Phosphatic marls have phosphoric acid in the form of the phos- 

Phosphorus, Its Sources and Use in Plant Feeding — 65 

phate of lime as it exists in the phosphatic rocks, and it is in a similarly 
insoluble state, while the potash is in the form of a mineral known as glau- 
conite, and is also insoluble at once. Mr. lluftin, of Virginia, whose book 
on calcareous manures was for many years the standard authority on the sub- 
ject in this country, attributed the effects of marl, which he used largely on 
his lands in Southeastern Virginia, to the lime it contained. But it has been 
shown that in every instance the most valuable marls are those which contain 
the largest percentages of phosphoric acid, though shell marls are also valu- 
able as a source of lime for certain soils. 


After the exhaustion of the rich deposits of guano in the Peruvian 
islands, large quantities of phosphatic guano were brought from islands in the 
Carribean Sea, where the soluble nitrogen had been washed out by rains, leav- 
ing only the insoluble phosphate of lime. These guanos are used to a con- 
siderable extent in a pulverized state, and answer about the same purpose as 
the Florida soft phosphates of recent days. Most of these guanos are not 
adapted to the making of acid phosphate, and they are now little used since 
the discovery of the great deposits of phosphatic rock in North and South 
Carolina, Florida and Tennessee. 


The phosphatic rock that has entered more largely into the manufacture 
of acid phosphate is the South Carolina rock. This is pulverized and treated 
with sulphuric acid, and the result is the article called acid phosphate, which 
contains usually about 12 to 13 per cent, of soluble phosphoric acid, a smaller 
percentage of what is called "reverted" phosphoric acid, or acid not soluble 
at once in water, but soluble in citrates. The soluble and the reverted phos- 
phoric acid are added to make what is called the "available" phosphoric acid. 
Then there will always be a small portion of the phosphoric acid which is in- 
soluble. Some Station chemists assign no value to this in their valuations of 
fertilizers, while others value it at 2 cents per pound when the available is 
rated at 4 cents. This is the fairer valuation, since there is evidence that it 
does finally become available in the soil, just as the pulverized rock does. 

Tjarge deposits of phosphatic rock are found also in Florida, much of 
which is known as "soft" phosphate, and is not available for dissolving with 
sulphuric acid, and strenuous efforts have been made to get it into use under 
the name "Natural Plant Food." Tt has value, if one has time to wait on it. 
Another important deposit of phosphate rock has more recently been dis- 

66 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

covered in Central Tennessee. This has a high percentage of phosphate of 
lime, and will become the most important point from which to get phosphoric 
acid in the Central Western States. Another deposit has been discovered in 
the Juniata Valley of Pennsylvania, but whether it will assume any com- 
mercial importance is not yet known. Hard phosphate rock, which will yield 
on dissolving with sulphuric acid a good, drillable acid phosphate will always 
be of more agricultural value than those not adapted to this purpose. 

While phosphoric acid may exist in the form of iron phosphate and of 
aluminum phosphate, the only form in which it is available in the manu- 
facture of commercial fertilizers is the phosphate of lime. This is the form 
in which it is found in phosphatic rock and in animal bones, and hence manu- 
facturers, whose product does not contain a solitary animal bone, are very 
fond of printing on their bags the statement that the percentage of phosphoric 
acid in it' is "equal to bone phosphate;" thus leading the farmer to imagine 
that there are bones used in it, as they think that farmers value phosphoric 
acid from bones more highly than the same thing from some other source. 
I cannot too often repeat that it is the percentage of availability that the 
farmer is concerned with, and not whether it came from bones or 
rock. All untreated phosphates are insoluble in water, and untreated 
bone will become available more readily than untreated rock phos- 
phate, because it decays more readily, provided both are in an equally finely 
pulverized state. Many farmers have declared that they get as good results 
from the pulverized phosphates as from the acid phosphate, and in certain 
soils this may be the case, for the character of the soil has much to do with 
the rate in which the phosphoric acid in an untreated phosphate becomes 
available. In a soil abounding in humus, or vegetable decay, the phosphates 
will become soluble more readily than in a heavy, clay soil deficient in organic 
decay. In the porous soil, filled with humus, the oxidizing influences of the 
air have free access, and decay proceeds more rapidly, while the acidity of 
such soils also favors the change. For general purposes it is far better, how- 
ever, to use the acid phosphate than the lower priced pulverized rock or the 
iron phosphate. Professor Voorhees well says that, "In any case, animal 
bone, or finely ground mineral phosphates, cannot be depended upon to fully 
meet the needs of quick growing crops for phosphoric acid, but may answer 
an excellent purpose where the object is to gradually improve the soil in its 
content of this constituent, as well as to supply such crops as are continuous, 
or that grow through long periods, as, for example, meadows, pastures, and 
orchard and vineyard crops." That is to say, that where you can afford to 
wait and where you want long-continued, slow availability, it may pay to use 
the more slowly available forms of phosphoric acid, but where you want the 

Phosphorus, Its Sources and Use in Plant Feeding — 67 

offect on the immediate annual crop you had better get the dissolved rock or 
acid phosphate. With most farmers, the question of immediate returns for 
the expenditure is the most important point. 


In some parts of the country farmers call all commercial fertilizers 
"phosphate." This is an error which all should rid themselves of as quickly 
as possible. The term phosphate is applicable only to compounds of phos- 
phoric acid and a base, making what is called a salt. Thus the phosphate of 
lime is a salt composed of a certain number of parts of lime with phosphoric 
acid. A commercial fertilizer in which the phosphoric acid is only one of the 
constituents cannot correctly be called a phosphate. It is simply a fertilizing 
mixture in which phosphoric acid is one of the constituents. The proper 
term to apply to all mixed goods is commercial fertilizer. 

Then, too, the popular name "acid phosphate" as applied to the dissolved 
phosphate rock is not strictly correct. Phosphate is the original condition in 
which the phosphoric acid is found in the rock. When dissolved in sulphuric 
acid it becomes a superphosphate. But the term "acid phosphate" has be- 
come so fixed in popular use that it answers all purposes, and suits our Ameri- 
can liking for brevity better than the longer word, superphosphate. Super- 
j)hosphates, whether inade from rock, bones or bone charcoal, are identical, 
varying only in the percentage of phosphoric acid with the amount in the 
article from which they are made. Hence a superphosphate made from bones 
will have a higher percentage of phosphoric acid than one from rock, but one 
per cent, in the one is just as good as one per cent, in the other. Acid phos- 
phate is always better when freshly made than after being stored for a long 
lime, since there is a tendency to reversion to a less soluble form in long 
standing, and there is a decrease of the soluble and an increase of the form 
soluble only in ammonium citrate. Acid phosphate, then, which has been 
kept over a season, is less immediately available than a freshly made article. 
This takes place more readily in superphosphates made from the mineral 
]ihosphates than in those made from bones or bone charcoal. Superphos- 
phates made from bone and bone charcoal are more uniform than those from 
mineral phosphates, and their phosphoric acid is nearly all soluble, while 
those from mineral phosphates may run all the way from 12 to 14 per cent, 
in the South Carolina, to 16 or even 18 per cent, in the Tennessee. Super- 
phosphates from raw animal bone usually have about 12 per cent, available 
phosphoric acid, and about 5 per cent, insoluble, but having also a percentage 
of ammonia, they have a higher value commercially than the dissolved rock, 
but their agricultural value may be no higher. 

68 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

The writer has frequent inquiries from farmers who are anxious to know 
whether the free sulphuric acid that they are told remains in the acid phos- 
phate from the rock, will be injurious. The fact is there is seldom, if ever, 
any such acid in a well-made superphosphate, and even if there was it would 
at once seek some base in the soil and be changed to a neutral salt, either the 
sulphate of lime, potash or magnesia, according as one or the other may be 
present in the soil. 

It has been found that where superphosphates have long been used freely 
the phosphoric acid will accumulate in the soil to such an extent that further 
applications have no effect. This has been the case in a large section of 
Eastern North Carolina, where the farmers say that they no longer get any 
returns from the application of phosphates to their cotton crop. The fact 
is that the soil holds on to phosphoric acid longer than anything else in the 
way of plant food, and does not allow it to leach away as the nitrogen is apt 
to do, but keeps it there till the crops call for it. Hence it is easy to see that 
in making liberal applications of phosphates, whether merely pulverized bone 
or rock or dissolved phosphate, we are in no danger of serious loss, but can 
depend on any surplus staying there till wanted by the crops. Professor 
Voorhees well says, "The real object of making it soluble is to enable its better 
distribution. If it were possible to as cheaply prepare the dicalcic (or 
reverted) form as the soluble, it would, perhaps, be quite as useful from the 
standpoint of availability. After the soluble is distributed in the soil, it is 
fixed there by combining with the lime and other minerals present." It is 
thought that it at once assumes the reverted form, and that in the presence 
of an abundance of lime may even become insoluble. The solubility of the 
phosphoric acid lasts much longer in a light soil deficient in organic matter, 
but even there it is fixed rapidly enough to prevent serious loss. Chemical 
analysis of the drainage waters seldom shows any loss of phosphoric acid. 


In the valuation of commercial fertilizers, as we have noted, some of the 
Experiment Stations place no commercial value on the insoluble phosphoric 
acid in a fertilizer. We have long been satisfied from our own experience 
that this is an error, at least so far as the agricultural and crops-producing 
value of the insoluble phosphate is concerned. Years ago, in farming on a 
large scale, we found that we did get the happiest results from the use 
of the phosphatic guanos from the Carribean islands in which the phosphoric 
acid, was all insoluble. True, we did not get the same immediate results as 
from :the use of the dissolved acid phosphate, but the final result was as good 
and more lasting, and when these insoluble forms of phosphoric acid were 

Phosphorus, Its Sources and Use in Plant Feeding — 69 

used on the wheat crop, we never failed to get large returns in the luxuriant 
stands of clover that followed, though the effect on the wheat crop direct was 
not so apparent as when the acid phosphate was used. But we invariably had 
more difficulty in getting a good stand of clover after the use of the acid phos- 
phate than we did after the use of the insoluble phosphoric acid. In our case 
stock and stock food was the chief interest, and the wheat was only regarded 
as a means for paying the expense of getting the land in clover. Where im- 
mediate results only are sought it may be best to use the dissolved phosphate, 
but where final results in the clover and grass are of more importance, then 
it will be far cheaper and perhaps better to use simply the pulverized rock, 
or what is known as "floats." As we have often said, where one can afford 
to wait for the results he can get them with less expenditure of money in the 
use of pulverized rock than in the dissolved article. This experience has 
been verified by some experiments made at the Maryland Agricultural 
Experiment Station and published in a recent bulletin of that Station. They 
state that the best results were obtained, in the long run at least, from the 
use of the insoluble phosphates. Not having this bulletin at hand we cannot 
quote from it direct, but believe that we have given the sum of their results. 
The fact is that no chemist can discover just what is taking place in the soil, 
even with what may be put there in what he calls a perfectly soluble state. 
The soil is a wonderful laboratory, in which the forces of nature are always 
at work, making new combinations and bringing about changes in what we 
put there. The carbonic acid of the rain water is nature's great breaker up of 
combinations and former of new ones, and what exists in the soil in one state 
today may be in a very different one* tomorrow. It is always safe, then, for 
the farmer to question his soil and to accept the results it gives him, for he 
can find thus, for himself, things that no chemist can discover. In certain 
sections of Eastern North Carolina observant farmers have long since found 
that they got no results for the use of phosphoric acid in any form, but that 
nitrogen and potash always gave them good results. Subsequent investiga- 
tions by the Department of Agriculture have demonstrated that these farmers 
are right, and that on their lands the chief need is for nitrogen and potash. 
Then, since by good farming with the legumes they can get all the nitrogen 
they need, the farmers on lands where phosphatic marls and rocks are found, 
are in that happy condition where they need to purchase but a single form of 
plant food in order to make and keep their lands perennially productive. 
There may be other sections North and South, where similar conditions pre- 
vail, and this makes it all the more important that farmers should experiment 
to determine the manurial needs of their soils. How this is done we have 
tried to explain elsewhere. 



Potash is the result of the oxidation of the element potassium, which is 
one of the metallic elements. In former days all the potash available for 
manurial purposes was that which is contained in the farm manures and in 
wood ashes. These are still valuable sources so far as they go, but they are 
totally insufficient for the demands of modern agriculture. It is a wonderful 
fact in the economy of nature that stores are provided to come into use as 
the demand for them arises. The vast deposits of coal were not discovered 
so long as the forest met all the requirements of man for fuel, but as the de- 
mand came the supply was at hand to meet it. Just so with the potash. 
With the great call for this material for the feeding of plants on our long 
cultivated soils, there was discovered a vast deposit of potash in the salt mines 
of Germany, in the form of sulphates and chlorides of potash. These mines 
are now the great source of the world's supply of potash, and it has been found 
that the deposit extends over a much lai^ger area there than was formerly sup- 
posed, and that the supply is practically inexhaustible. Doubtless if the 
Grerman supply should fail there will be discovered other deposits, to redeem 
the promise to mankind that seed time and harvest shall not fail. 


Experiments, carefully conducted, have shown that potash is one of the 
things which plants cannot grow without. In a soil or a solution entirely 
free from potash a seed will germinate and grow to the extent of the potash 
stored in the seed itself, but when that is used up the plant perish'^s. In the 
cultivation of farm crops it has been found that potash is more slowly ex- 
hausted from the soil than other forms of plant food, since its office mainly 
consists in the building up of the woody structure and cellular parts of the 
plant, and hence is found in the straw, corn stalks and other materials that 


Potash — 71 

usually are kept on the farm, and returned in the manure; and not because 
it leaches away from the soil less rapidly than phosphoric acid. The great 
office of potash in the plant seems to be the structure of starch, since it is 
found that while all the conditions needed for the assimilation of carbon from 
the air (the process through which starch is formed), may be present, the 
starch is not formed without the presence of potash in sufficient quantity. 
Now, as all woody structure is formed from the starch, it is evident that 
potash is an important matter in the building up of the plant. Plants like 
potatoes and corn, which make large surplus quantities of starch to store 
away in tubers and grain, require large percentages of potash in their food. 


Light, sandy soils near the coast are more apt to be deficient in potash 
than the heavy clays, especially the clays that are the result of the decomposi- 
tion of granitic rocks, which naturally contain a larger percentage of potash. 
But even in some of these soils the application of potash may be found profit- 
able, because the potash may be, and commonly is, in the form of an insoluble 
silicate, and this becomes very slowly available to plants through the action 
of the carbonic acid in the rain water. Black, peaty soils, resulting from the 
decomposition of vegetable matter, are very commonly deficient in potash, 
and it is a common remark on the South Atlantic coast that a certain soil will 
grow upland rice, but will not make a crop of Indian corn. This is mainly 
because of the deficiency of mineral matters, chiefly of potash. It is a com- 
mon and almost universal practice among the manufacturers of fertilizers 
to make the phosphoric acid much larger in proportion than the potash, and 
it has been shown by experiment that the average commercial fertilizer has, 
as a rule, too small a percentage of potash in proportion to the nitrogen and 
phosphoric acid. The plants, like peas and clover, which give us nitrogen 
free of cost, are great consumers of phosphates and potash, and they can do 
far more of their important work if well supplied with the mineral elements 
of plant food. The average complete fertilizer mixture contains not more 
than 1 to 2 per cent, of potash, while for tobacco, potatoes, and corn and some 
other crops the potash on light soils should be as high as 10 per cent, for the 
best results. Therefore, it is important for the progressive farmer to make 
his own fertilizing mixtures, so that he can vary the proportions to suit the 
different crops grown ; and if he practices the best rotation, he will find little 
use for the complete fertilizers, will finally buy nothing but phosphoric acid 
and potash, and will use these freely for the purpose of getting more of the 
nitrogen fixed in his soil. 

73; — Ceop Growing and Crop Feeding 

what is the best form of potash? 

As we have said, the potash mined in Germany exists in the forms of 
sulphates, chlorides and carbonates. There is little difference in the rate of 
availability to the plant of any of these forms, but the effect of the particular 
form on the different crops is an important matter. It has been found that 
while the muriate (or chloride) of potash will produce a heavy crop of tobac- 
co, it seriously impairs the quality of the leaf, and hence in a tobacco fertilizer 
it is important to use the sulphate, which is free from chlorides. In some 
sections it has been found that the Irish potato crop is damaged in quality 
by the use of muriate, while in other sections the muriate is used exclusively 
on this crop. The nature of the soil seems to have a great deal to do with the 
form in which potash is of use to the Irish potato. In the great early-potato 
growing section of the South Atlantic coast, the muriate has been found to 
give the finest crop ; while in the North and on a heavier soil, the sulphate is 
of importance in giving quality to the product. On a clay soil and in a 
Northern climate we should use the sulphate for potatoes. Crops that have 
sugar as an important constituent are always more favorably affected by the 
sulphate than the muriate. Sweet potatoes, sugar beets, strawberries, toma- 
toes and such should always have their potash in the form of a sulphate free 
from chlorides. Indian corn and grasses, wheat and oats, are indifferent to 
the form in which the potash is furnished. 


As mined in Germany there are two principal forms of the salts in a 
crude state. These are kainit and sylvanite. There are other forms, but 
these are about the only ones exported, and by far the larger part of the crude 
salts that come to this country are in the form of kainit. While the potash 
in kainit is in the form of a sulphate, it is mixed with such a large percentage 
of chloride of sodium (common salt) that its action is the same as the 
chloride, or muriate. Containing so low a percentage of potash, generally 
a little over 12 per cent., it is a costly form in which to buy potash at any dis- 
tance from the port of entry, since the freighting of so large a proportion of 
useless material rapidly runs up the cost of the potash to the farmer, which is 
the only thing in it which is of any great importance to him. It is also 
dangerous to use in large quantities in immediate contact with seed, or young 
plant roots, because of the salt it contains. Some time ago a farmer in the 
tobacco section of North Carolina wrote to me that he had bad success with 
the home mixing of fertilizers from a formula we gave him, and that the 

Potash — 73 

quality of the tobacco was very poor. We asked him to send a copy of the 
bill of materials he had bought. He purchased them from a large manufac- 
turer of fertilizers, and it was evident, as soon as we saw the bill, that he had 
been imposed upon purposely in order to discredit the formula. I prescribed 
sulphate of potash in the mixture, and he ordered it. On the bill was 
charged "sulphate of potash," and then added, in small letters, "low grade 
kainit." The cause of the poor quality of his tobacco was evident and we 
wrote to him that he had simply been cheated, as he should have had the high 
grade sulphate free from chlorides, and it was evident that the fertilizer man 
was after killing his home mixing. 


These are products which have been treated to remove the excess of other 
constituents and to concentrate the potash. The most common form and the 
form most generally used in this country is the muriate (or chloride) of pot- 
ash. It usually contains about 50 per cent, of actual potash. Dealers frequent- 
ly confuse unlearned buyers by giving on their bags the percentage of muriate 
instead of the percentage of actual potash. Thus they will say, "muriate of 
potash, 80 per cent." and lead the farmer to believe that there is 80 per cent, 
of potash. If you get an article with such a percentage stated, it simply 
means that it has that much of the muriate, and you can tell how much potash 
it has by multiplying the percentage of muriate by the fraction 0.632. Thus 
a bag marked muriate of potash 80 per cent., would have 50.56 per cent, of 
potash. In the same way the dealers will mark the sulphate of potash (the 
high grade) 98 per cent, sulphate of potash, and you can find the actual 
potash by multiplying this by the fraction 0.54, so that a bag having 98 per 
cent, of sulphate of potash will contain 52.92 per cent, of actual potash. As 
we have said, the sulphate is important for some crops for which the muriate 
is not well adapted, but its cost is greater than that of the muriate, and where 
the muriate is adapted to the crop it is always the most economical to use. 
The higher cost of the sulphate leads manufacturers of fertilizers to use the 
muriate where the sulphate should be used. One of the largest tobacco 
growers in Xorth Carolina told the writer that he sent a formula to a large 
manufacturer in which he specified sulphate of potash. They agreed to make 
it by his formula, and when the goods arrived he sent a sample to the State 
chemist for analysis, and this showed that the muriate had been used instead 
of the sulphate. He therefore very properly refused to receive the fertilizer. 
Tobacco growers who buy ready mixed fertilizers cannot be too careful as to 
the source of the potash in them. There is another form of manufactured 

74 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

potash called " double manure salts," or the double sulphate of potash and 
magnesia. This is a lower grade, and contains from 23 to 26 per cent, of 
potash. From the lower percentage of potash this, like kainit, is more costly 
so far as the actual potash is concerned, and it is always more economical, 
especially where the goods are to be transported far from the port of entry, 
to buy the most concentrated article and thus avoid the freighting of useless 


In some instances, near the coast, it is found that kainit is the cheaper 
form in which to buy potash. But to get the amount of potash needed by the 
early potato crop, for instance, would require an application that would be 
certain to be injurious from the amount of sodium chloride if directly applied 
to the crop. Fortunately it has been found that while the soil will release 
the chloride of sodium and allow it to leach away, it will hold on to the potash 
that was associated with it. Therefore, it has become the practice with a 
few growers near the coast to apply a heavy dressing of kainit in the fall, 
to the land they intend planting in potatoes in the spring. The injurious 
chloride is leached out of the sandy soil during the winter, while the potash 
remains. It also seems probable that the chloride in the leaching may render 
soluble other matters in the soil that may be of use, and thus help the crop. 
But this very fact may be a disadvantage, since there may be formed soluble 
chlorides of lime, and the heavy application of kainit may result in the ex- 
haustion of the lime in the soil. But where this practice is followed, the 
abundance of marine shells at hand will soon remedy this, if used on the soil 
after burning. There are few localities, however, where kainit is the cheapest 
form of potash. The application of potash should in any event, be immedi- 
ately worked into the soil, so that it may be equally diffused in the soil and 
not fixed merely at the surface. 


The general opinion is that kainit is especially dangerous in contact with 
seeds or young plant roots, by reason of the large percentage of salt which it 
contains. This is true, but in our own experiments we have found that the 
muriate is far more damaging to germination of seeds with which it comes in 
contact, than kainit is. Carefully conducted experiments have shown that 
even when covered with an inch of soil, seeds placed above the muriate were 
seriously damaged. In fact, no fertilizer containing a large percentage of 
potash should bo used in direct contact with the seed, and it is far better that 

Potash — 75 

both the potash and the phosphates should be applied broadcast, and some time 
in advance of the planting of the crops, so that they may become fixed and as- 
similated in the soil ani their caustic effects prevented. Growers of frame 
lettuce in Eastern North Carolina know that in their sandy soil the crop needs 
a liberal supply of potash, and they usually give it liberally. A lettuce 
grower some time since sent me in the early fall some of his plants, which had 
the edges of the "leaves turning red and evidently dying. He wanted to know 
the reason. Examination showed no insect or fungus attack, but the roots 
were evidently injured. The plants were set in a frame here and at once grew 
off and made fine heads. I found that the grower had applied a heavy dress- 
ing of muriate of potash in the fertilizer used on the frames, and this was 
doubtless the cause ; for on taking up all the plants and re-setting the frames, 
after several good rains, he had no further trouble. Wheat growers commonly 
drill their seed with the fertilizer, and this may do where a very small per- 
centage of potash is used, and the quantity is far less than that used by the 
truck growers. 


Farmers in the tobacco manufacturing sections, and tobacco growers, 
should understand the value of tobacco waste. The stems from which the 
tobacco leaves are stripped on the plantations are a valuable source, not only 
of potash, but of phosphoric acid and nitrogen as well. The stems from the 
stemming houses are still more valuable, and the dust from the factories 
where smoking tobacco is made is in a form that is very much more readily 
taken by plants than the stems. The field stalks of tobacco contain 3.71 per 
cent, nitrogen, 5.02 per cent, of potash and 0.65 per cent, of phosphoric acid. 
The stems from the stemmeries contain 2.35 per cent, of nitrogen, 8.20 per 
cent, of potash and 0.70 per cent, of phosphoric acid. So that with the ex- 
ception of phosphoric acid they form a complete fertilizer of high grade. 

But of course they cannot be compared with a soluble fertilizer of similar 
analysis, since before the nitrogen and other things can become available to 
plants the material must l)e completely decayed in the soil. Hence the finely 
divided dust from the smoking tobacco factories will probably be the more 
quickly available. Where these materials can be bought cheaply, the farmer 
may be able to get potash in a cheaper form than any other. We have at 
hand no analysis of the tobacco dust, and it doubtless varies a great deal owing 
to the amount of sand and other impurities in it. The percentage of potash 
may run as high as ten per cent., and the nitrogen as high as in most of the 
fertilizer mixtures. Part of the nitrogen in tobacco exists as a nitrate and is 

76 — Ceop Growing and Ceop Feeding 

immediately available to plants. The remainder is organic nitrogen, which 
must go through the process of nitrification in the soil to become available 
to plants. Where the farmer is so situated as to be able to get these tobacco 
wastes, he should by all means avail himself of them, since they are rich in 
plant food and contain no deleterious matters. We have seen tobacco dust 
spread an inch thick on a lawn with the finest results. A ton of tobacco 
stems of good quality contains nitrogen equivalent to 500 pounds of nitrate 
of soda, and potash equal to 200 pounds of high grade sulphate of potash. 
Since these tobacco wastes can often be bought near the factories for $3 to $5 
per ton it is evident that they are a very cheap source of nitrogen and potash. 


The oil mills engaged in the manufacture of cotton seed oil in the 
Southern States use the hulls from the seeds largely as a fuel in their fur- 
naces. The ashes resulting from this burning contain a large percentage of 
potash, and a fair percentage of phosphoric acid, with very little lime. 
Ordinary wood ashes contain so large a percentage of lime that they are not 
available for mixing in fertilizers, since the lime will have a tendency to 
drive off ammonia and revert the phosphoric acid. While cotton seed hull 
ashes are rich in potash, they vary greatly in the actual percentage of potash 
and their value cannot be predicted without an actual analysis of the sample. 
They contain from 20 to 24 per cent, of potash, nearly 9 per cent, of phos- 
phoric acid, 9 per cent, of lime and 10 per cent, of magnesia. These ashes are 
an excellent source of potash and phosphoric acid, and the fact that they are 
not so rich in lime as ashes from the hard-woods is an advantage, and allows 
them to be used in compounding a fertilizer mixture where wood ashes would 
be inadmissable. 


The green sand marls of New Jersey and Southeast Virginia contain a 
large percentage of potash, as well as a smaller percentage of phosphoric acid. 
But all these are in a form very slowly available. Their slow availability ren- 
ders the marl applications lasting in effect, and as the green sand marl can be 
applied in very large quantities without injurious effects, its value as a me- 
chanical amendment to the soil is very considerable. Marl has had a great ef- 
fect on the lands of a section of New Jersey, and also in Southeast Virginia. 
A farm in Virginia which had an application of 400 bushels per acre 40 years 
ago was made permanently productive, and since then a further application 
of marl has not seemed to have any effect. 


The substances of which we have been treating in the past three chapters, 
nitrogen, phosphoric acid and potash, are direct fertilizers, or plant foods. 
We come now to the consideration of the forms which are most useful as re- 
agents, or, as we may say, stimulants to the productive capacity of the soil. 
While it is true that calcium of which lime is the oxide when freshly made, 
is one of the elements essential to plant growth, it is usually found in all 
cultivated soils in almost inexhaustible quantities for all the purposes of 
direct plant feeding. Yet an application of freshly slaked quick lime (or 
hydrate oj calcium), will often have a marked effect on the productiveness 
of the soil, through its action in releasing other forms of plant food, particu- 
larly potash, from the insoluble silicates in which it occurs in the soil. 

Lime is also important in a soil abounding in organic matter, as it cor- 
rects the acidity of such soils, and enables the nitrifying microbes to thrive 
and do their work in bringing the nitrogen of the organic matter into the 
available form of a nitrate. Hence the old proverb that "Lime enriches the 
father and impoverishes the son," for it enables us to get at the plant food in 
the soil, and if used with the notion that it is simply a manure we may soon 
find that its use has tended to exhaustion. Judiciously used, however, there 
is nothing that is a greater aid in the development of the farm. Lime also 
has an important mechanical effect on soils. It renders a heavy clay soil 
more friable by gathering it into small lumps, or flocculating it, as it is 
called. On a sandy soil it sinks and forms a compact layer below the plow, 
and thus renders the soil less leachy. But in many sections where there is a 
fertile soil well supplied with humus, the application of lime has at first pro- 
duced such marked results that the farmers have jumped to the conclusion 
that lime is all they need to keep up the productiveness of their lands. After 
a while they find that the lime has less and less effect, and they are compelled 
to resort to commercial fertilizers for the production of crops. We recently 


78 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding. 

liad a letter from an old and observant farmer in one of th most prosperous 
agricultural sections of the State of Maryland, who deplored the fact that his 
neighbors had u^ed lime to such an extent that their lands were less pro- 
ductive than formerly. He said that for over thirty years he had used noth- 
ing on his farm but acid phosphate and clover, with an occasional dressing 
of a moderate amount of lime to preserve the sweetness of the soil and to 
enable it to grow large crops of clover. The result was that he made 40 
bushels of wheat per acre where his neighbors grew less than formerly. Now, 
in his application of acid phosphate every third year he applied in it 40 per 
cent, of the sulphate of lime, and adding a small dressing of freshly slaked 
lime every sixth year, he kept releasing the potash in his soil, and hence 
needed only the phosphoric acid in his fertilizer. His red clay soil contains 
an almost inexhaustible deposit of potash as an insoluble silicate, and the lime 
gradually gives him the use of some of this. How long he can keep up 
the productiveness of his land without adding potash will, of course, 
depend on the amount his soil contains. The wise farmer will, however, 
watch closely and stand ready to supply the deficiency as it occurs, but will 
not waste money in the purchase of what he does not at present need. 

Limestone, from which lime is made, is an impure carbonate of lime, in 
many instances being mixed with a large percentage of magnesia, making 
what is called dolomite, or magnesian, limestone. As the magnesia is a use- 
ful plant food this is not a bad mixture for most soils. Where pure lime is 
wanted the purer the stone, even till it becomes marljle, the better. Oyster 
shells are used as a source of lime in the coast region, and they are a pure car- 
bonate of lime, and when free from earthy impurities, make a very pure 
lime. In some parts of the South lime is burned from the fossil shell rock 
and contains a small percentage of phosplioric acid. One of the greatest of 
the values of lime to the farmer is in enabling his soil to grow clover. It is 
found that the constant growing of clover and the accumulation of organic 
matter in the soil tends to create an acid condition. Under this condition, 
the microbes that enable the clover plant to collect nitrogen do not thrive, 
and the soil microbes that carry on the work of transforming the organic 
nitrogen into nitrate will not exist. The farmer finds that he can no longer 
grow clover with any success, for the land is "clover sick." This is generally 
the result of an acid condition of the soil. Lime will correct this condition and 
will usually cause the clover to grow luxuriantly. IMost of the legumes are 
lime-loving plants. The great success of alfalfa in the arid regions of the West 
is largely due to the fact that the lime has not been washed out of the soil. In 
the Eastern States no great success with alfalfa has ever been had except from 
liming it. We visited a year or so ago the grass experiment farm of Peter 

Lime and Liming Land — 79 

Henderson & Co., at Haekensack, N". J. We were shown there a luxuriant 
plat of alfalfa, and were told that the year before it had been very feeble, 
but in hauling lime to another part of the farm a little shook from the wagon 
on the corner of the alfalfa patch. At once that part assumed a stronger 
growth, and noting this, they applied a dressing of lime to the whole plat 
with the finest results. Shortly after this I visited the farm of a wealthy 
gentleman in North Carolina, who is interested in the dairy, and was trying 
to grow alfalfa. We advised him to give it a coat of lime, which was done. 
We passed the field but a few days ago and noted from the train that it was 
the most luxuriant growth of alfalfa we have ever seen in the East. The 
lime is not only to some extent direct food for the alfalfa, but it brings about 
changes in other matters that favor its growth. One of these changes is one 
of the most recent discoveries in science. We have seen that all green plants 
get their carbon from the air through the assimilative action of their green 
matter. Fungus plants have no green matter and hence, as a rule, are de- 
pendent on what green leaved plants have assimilated. But these microscopic 
plants in the soil, which carry on the work of changing the organic nitrogen 
into nitrates, though they are members of the great fungus class, have a power 
that no green plant is known to possess. They can get the carbon for their 
growth from mineral combinations like the carbonate of lime. Here, then, 
is another reason why the application of lime to a soil abounding in organic 
matter favors the nitrification, or formation of nitrates, for the use of green 
plants which must get their nitrogen from the soil. 

Lime, to have its best effect, should be well burned, and slaked with 
water to a powder before applying it to the soil. If allowed to lie and get 
air slaked it is far less efl'ective, since it gets, through the action of the car- 
l)onic acid in the air, into an insoluble carbonate, or returns almost to the con- 
dition in which pulverized limestone would have been. Stone lime slaked 
with water till it falls, should make three bushels of slaked lime for every 
bushel of fresh lumps. Oyster shell lime will slake two bushels for one. 
There has of late been quite a change in the ideas of thinkers in regard to the 
quantity of lime that should be used. Formerly it was the practice to apply 
lime in large quantities and at long intervals. In recent years it has been 
shown experimentally that a small application, frequently repeated, is far 
better than the heavy application, so that now it is seldom that more than 
20 bushels per acre are used by the best farmers, and some even contend for a 
smaller application than this. With a short rotation of three or four years, 
in which there are frequent crops of legumes grown, the repeated application 
of small doses of lime every four or five years has been found to produce bet- 
ter results than twice the amount at a longer interval. 

80 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

Experiments that have been long and carefully conducted by the Rhode 
Island Agricultural Experiment Station, have shown that the sweetening of 
an acid soil by the application of lime is not always an advantage, since there 
are some plants that seem to prefer the acid soil, or rather some that are more 
exempt from disease in such a soil. On the Irish potato crop, for instance, 
it was found that liming brought about conditions that were favorable to 
the fungus that causes scab in the potato, and while the resulting crop may be 
larger the market value was reduced by reason of the scab. Acidity in the 
soil is detrimental, it appears, to the lower forms of plant life rather than to 
green plants. Many people have jumped to the conclusion that their land 
has become infested with sheep sorrel because of its acidity. The fact is that 
while this is usually the case it by no means follows that the sheep sorrel gets 
its acid from the soil. The sheep sorrel is one of the plants that can abide 
the presence of free oxalic acid, while this acid is formed in other plants, the 
plant at once makes a combination of it with lime or potash and locates it 
in crystals insoluble in the sap at ordinary temperatures, and thus renders 
it harmless. The oxalic acid in the sheep sorrel, like other vegetable acids, 
is the result of the assimilation of carbon from the air, and it does not come 
from the soil. But sheep sorrel will grow in a soil too acid to allow the suc- 
cess of clover, and hence it is the common complaint that we cannot get clover 
on account of the sheep sorrel. An application of lime will bring about con- 
ditions favorable to the clover and enable it to smother out the sheep sorrel. 
Not that the liming kills the sheep sorrel, but that it enables the clover to 
grow and overcome it. Anyone can readily test the condition of his soil by 
getting a piece of blue litmus paper from a drug store, and burying it over 
night in the damp soil. If, on taking it up, it is found to have turned to a 
pink color it is evidence that the soil is in an acid condition, and as our most 
valuable crops thrive best in a soil of a feebly alkaline nature, an application 
of lime to such soils will usually be beneficial. While most legumes, and 
especially red clover, are greatly benefited by an application of freshly water 
slaked lime, there is one important legume which is not thus helped. The 
cow pea, the greatest legume for the Southern farmer, is positively damaged 
by a dressing of lime. Hence one reason why the cow pea will thrive on a 
soil too acid to permit the growth of clover. It seems probable, too, that the 
microbes that exist on the roots of the pea, and enable it to get the free nitro- 
gen from the air, are better able to exist in an acid soil than those of the clo- 
ver ; for it is well known now that each legume has its own particular microbe, 
and that some of them may be inimical to those of other legumes, and it is 
rare to find one species of legume doing its best immediately after the removal 
of another of the same order from the land. This is only another reason for 

Lime and Liming Land — 81 

a still further development of rotations of crops. Limo will never make poor 
land rich if regarded simply as a manure, but, used aright, there is no means 
available to the farmer that will more efficiently aid in the building up of 
the productivity of his land. 


The sulphate of lime is a natural deposit found in certain sections, and 
mined under tlie name of gypsum or plaster. Pure gypsum contains 83.5 
per cent, of lime, 46.5 per cent, of sulphuric acid, and 21 per cent, of water. 
It is frequently burned to form what is called plaster of Paris, which, when 
mixed in water, rapidly hardens and is used for various purposes in the arts. 
The pulverized rock, known as plaster, has been largely used as a soil applica- 
tion. Like lime, the plaster has the power to release insoluble potash in the 
soil, and it sometimes has a marked effect on soils containing a large percent- 
age of potash. As in the case of lime, farmers seeing the effect that an appli- 
cation of plaster has on their soil, have at times jumped to the conclusion 
that plaster was all they needed to make their soil rich. But, as in the case 
of lime, they have soon found that the continued application soon fails to 
produce the effect that it once did, and that its continued use has so impover- 
ished their soil that they have been compelled to resort to the commercial 
fertilizers to restore the mineral constituents they have removed by their 
short-sighted policy. 

While on some soils plaster has had this marked effect, there are other 
soils on which the application of plaster has never had any marked effect. 
Sandy soils near the coast, which are deficient in potash, seldom respond 
favorably to the application of plaster. In an experiment made by the writer 
a number of years ago, two fields adjoining in clover of the second spring 
from sowing, were dressed with lime and plaster of the same money value. 
Both made a handsome growth, but the effect of the freshly slaked lime was 
decidedly more marked than that of the plaster, and the subsequent cropping 
of the land showed that the limed field had collected far more nitrogen than 
the one treated with plaster. 

A great deal has been said and written in regard to the use of plaster in 
arresting the escape of ammonia from manure, and some seem to suppose that 
dry plaster scattered about a stable will absorb ammonia and prevent its 
loss. The fact is that plaster has little or no effect in preventing loss of am- 
monia unless it is thoroughly mixed in the manure and moistened, for no 
chemical recombination can take place in the absence of moisture. Plaster, 
being the sulphate of lime, may, when well mixed with manure and moist- 

82 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

ened, change the volatile carbonate of ammonia to the less volatile sulphate 
and thus retain it in the manure. A more efficient agent for this purpose, 
tliat can be mixed with the manure, but should not be used under the animals, 
is kainit, or the low grade crude sulphate of potash. The large amount of 
salt it contains helps to keep the manure moist, and it has the same effect of 
replacing the carbonate of ammonia with the sulphate and at the same time 
adding potash, which is usually deficient in the manure in proportion to its ni- 
trogenous content. Years ago in the southeastern part of Virginia, wher« 
there are extensive deposits of plaster rock and also extensive salt deposits, 
the salt manufacturers got up what was known as the Holston mixture, made 
of plaster, ashes and salt, and this mixture for a long time had a great reputa- 
tion in Virginia. Its beneficial effects on crops were largely due to the ashes, 
and, on some soils, to the plaster, while the salt, though not a fertilizer at all, 
may have had some effect in the solution of matters of value in the soil. As a 
rule, where a farm is cultivated in a good rotation and lime is used in connec- 
tion with the growing of clover there will be little or no use for the plaster, 
unless it may be in a section where plaster is a remarkably cheap article, and 
even then it could hardly take the place of lime. 


Near the city gas houses this lime is commonly offered so cheaply that 
farmers are tempted to use it on their land. We have seen some disastrous 
results from the use of this lime as it is freshly brought from the gas works. 
It contains, while fresh, sulphides that are positively poisonous to plant life, 
and while it may be used with some good effect after a long exposure to the 
air, even the small percentage of nitrogen it contains in the form of sulphate 
of ammonia may be positively harmful, so that while it contains a good per- 
centage of lime, we cannot advise its use. Far better pay a reasonable price 
for fresh quick lime than have the gas house lime for the hauling. 


Sometimes the manufacturers of fertilizers, in order to make a more con- 
centrated article of superphosphate, remove a portion of the sulphate of lime, 
which contains a small percentage of phosphoric acid. This has been sold 
at about the price of common plaster, and when in a good mechanical condi- 
tion it is a good substitute for plaster. One manufacturer offers this under 
the name of "stable dust," and recommends it for sprinkling manure to pre- 
vent the formation of the volatile carbonate of ammonia and a consequent 
loss of nitrogen. Of its proper use in this we have already written. 

Limb and Liming Land — 83 

agricultural salt 

The packing houses have large quantities of refuse salt which they are 
glad to get rid of at a low price, and there is a persistent effort to persuade 
the farmers that it is valuable as a manure. The editors of agricultural 
papers are continually applied to by their readers for information in regard 
to the value of salt as a manure, and there are some writers who are continu- 
ally claiming that soda, of which salt is largely composed, can be profitably 
used as a substitute for potash. Though experiments have continually shown 
that this is not the case, and that soda cannot take the place of potash, the 
subject seems to be a perennial one for some. Salt, or chloride of sodium, 
furnishes in itself no element of plant food essential to vegetation, and what- 
ever good effect may result from its use is due to its action in aiding the de- 
composition of organic matter in the soil, "increasing the absorbing power of 
soils, and, by its reaction with lime, acting as a solvent for phosphate." Prof. 
Voorhees, in his work on fertilizers, well says, "There would seem to be no 
good reason for paying from $4 to $6 per ton for this substance, when practi- 
cally the same effect can be obtained from the salt contained in the crude 
potash salt, kainit, one-third of the weight of which is common salt. This, 
too, may be had free of charge, or for the handling, as the market price of 
the kainit is based upon its content of potash." 


The shell marls of the Atlantic coast are almost entirely carbonate of 
lime, and can be used for about the same purpose as the air slaked lime. 
Properly used in connection with the culture of legiimes, these marls have 
a value, but it must not be assumed that, like the green sand marl, they will 
furnish other forms of plant food, and, when applied heavily to soils deficient 
in humus, their effect may be disastrous to the fertility of the land for a long 


These are another waste product about which inquiries are continually 
being made. Farmers, knowing the value of hard-wood ashes, are apt to con- 
clude that the ashes from the spent oak bark will have considerable value. 
While good hard-wood ashes may contain from 5 to 7 per cent, of potash, the 
tan bark ashes seldom have over 2 per cent, of potash, associated with a small 
percentage of phosphorip acid apd about 30 per cent, of lime. They are not 

84 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

valuable enough to pay for hauling any great distance if they have to be paid 
for. Where they can be had for the hauling a short distance it may pay the 
local farmers to use them. 


Many years ago an enthusiastic chemist wrote a book entitled the "Muck 
Manual," and talked learnedly about gein and other things, and showed that 
muck mixed with spent ashes was identical in composition with cow dung. 
But the muck swamps of the country have not yet been transformed into cow 
dung, and there is far less talk about the virtures of muck than there was in 
the writer's boyhood. The introduction of commercial fertilizers has so re- 
duced the labor of furnishing plant food to the soil that few are willing now 
to undertake the great labor of digging and handling peat. There is no 
doubt that a good quality of swamp muck, when well dried, is a good ab- 
sorbent of liquids in stables and barnyards, and that it will put a good deal of 
humus in the soil; and that finally there may be some release of nitrogen 
from its organic matter. But raw muck spread on the land can have very 
little effect in increasing its productiveness, and may do positive harm. If 
the muck is to be applied directly to the land the best way would probably he 
to pile it in the fall in flat heaps, and cover every six-inch layer with freshly 
flaked lime. After lying in this way during the Winter, it will make a much 
better application for the soil. But, as Prof. Voorhees well says, if the 
swamp can be drained, it is far better to leave the muck there and drain the 
land for cultivation. 


A great deal has been said and written of late years in regard to the 
mixing of fertilizers on the farm. The manurial requirements of the dif- 
ferent crops vary to such an extent that the same fertilizer is not always best 
for all, and it is of great advantage to vary the proportions of the various 
constituents to suit the crop grown. It is difficult and expensive to do this 
by buying the ready mixed articles. Then, too, it has been shown that for the 
soil of many sections of the country, particularly in New England, the ready 
made fertilizers all have too large a proportion of phosphates to the potash 
and nitrogen used. 

In the reports of analyses of commercial fertilizers by the Agricultural 
Experiment Stations it is a common practice to give the commercial value 
of each. This value means that the plant-food in the mixture can be bought 
at retail on the market for the price named. But the commercial value of a 
fertilizer and its agricultural value are two entirely different things. It 
must not be assumed that because a fertilizer is rated high in commercial 
value it is also the best for all soils and crops. The agricultural value 
depends on the needs of the land on which it is to be used, and in buying by 
the commercial valuation the farmer may be buying matter which his soil 
does not need, and hence will be wasting money in the purchase. 

If there is no need for the purchase of nitrogen, for instance, the farmer 
can save at least half the cost of the fertilizer by buying an incomplete fer- 
tilizer, containing potash and phosphoric acid only. 

The various Experiment Stations have given a great deal of attention to 
the investigation of fertilizers, and their unanimous conclusion is that the 
farmers can buy the materials and mix their own fertilizers more cheaply than 
they can buy the factory mixed, and at the same time get just as good results 
from their use on crops. 

In regard to the valuation and selling price of commercial fertilizers, 
the Vermont Station (Bulletin No. 71) says, from an analysis of 137 brands 
made by eighteen different companies, "two-fifths of the brands carried no 


86 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

water-soluble nitrogen. Laboratory methods seem to indicate that somewhat 
inferior forms of nitrogen were used in certain cases, notably in some low 
grade goods, and by some companies. The phosphoric acid was, in some 
cases, quite largely in the insoluble or reverted forms, indicating apparently 
either imperfect manufacture, old goods, or more. or less use of (agricultur- 
ally) inferior forms of this article. Sulphate of potash is claimed to be 
present in nine-tenths of the brands, but was actually found in less than 
one-eighth of the entire number. 

The average selling price approximated $28.75, and the average valua- 
tion $17.39. Two dollars in every five paid for fertilizers met costs of man- 
ufacture and sale. The same amount of plant-food which cost a dollar might 
have been bought at retail for cash at the seaboard for 56 cents in average 
low priced goods, for 61 cts. in average medium grade brands, and for 66 cts. 
in average high priced goods. In one-third of the entire number of brands a 
dollar was charged for amounts of plant-food which might have been bought, 
in the manner above stated, for 55 cents or less. Cheap fertilizers are usually 
the most expensive to buy. Buying mixed goods on time is a far more 
costly method of getting plant-food than is home mixing or buying on 
special order." 

Low grade fertilizers, or complete fertilizers sold at low price, are always 
the most costly to the farmer. Several years ago a dealer in one of our cities, 
who was having fertilizers made for his trade by a chemical firm, sent me a 
package of the burnt sand and iron oxide left in the manufacture of sulphuric 
acid from iron pyrites, and wished to know if it had any fertilizing value, 
as he found that the manufacturer was using 500 pounds of it in a ton of low 
grade goods made for his sales. I, of course, told him that it was perfectly 
valueless. The farmer who bought these goods was attracted by their appar- 
ent low price, when, in fact, he was paying a high price for all the article 
contained of value, and was then paying freight on one-fourth of the bulk 
in an article that was of no use to him whatever. 

In some States, notably in North Carolina, the law in regard to fer- 
tilizers is so rigid and so strictly enforced, that manufacturers are compelled 
to fully come up to the guarantee printed on their bags, and in these States 
the farmer is pretty sure to get what he buys, and the only objection is that 
the prices charged are entirely too high. 

The great argument which the manufacturers of fertilizers have used 
against home mixing has been that the farmer cannot mix the goods as well 
as they can with their machinery, and that if he could do so, they could with 
their machinery mix them more cheaply. The fact is that with the materials 
at hand, the farmer can mix in any proportion fully as well as the factories 

Mixing Fertilizers on the Farm — 87 

mix the goods, and at a cost that will not be felt at all. According to the 
organ of the fertilizer makers the cost of mixing and putting their goods on 
the market is about $6 per ton, and the same paper figures up this cost by 
adding up drummers' salaries, postage, telegrams, travelling expenses and 
a lot of other items, none of which the farmer mixing his own goods would 
have to pay, but which are really paid by the manufacturers and those who 
buy from them ready mixed goods. So the fact is that the farmer can not 
only get the materials at retail for less than they are charged for them in 
the ready mixed articles, but he can also mix them far cheaper than the 
factories can. The same bulletin to which we have referred above, says in 
regard to the guarantees and claims of the fertilizer makers: "Guarantees 
are often designedly confusing and convey wrong impressions. Nitrogen, 
phosphoric acid and potash are what make fertilizers agriculturally and 
commercially valuable. They are often expressed, however, in guarantees 
as ammonia, bone-phosphate of lime and sulphate of potash. This is done 
to make a semblance of giving large percentages of plant-food. Thus ni- 
trogen equivalent to ammonia 2.50 per cent, promises really only 3.06 per 
cent, of nitrogen; available phosphoric acid equivalent to bone-phosphate of 
lime 21.80 per cent, promises but 10 per cent, available; and potash (sul- 
phate) 3.70 per cent, but 2 per cent, of potash." Buyers should remember 
these facts, and ignore in the guarantee everything except the lower figures 
for nitrogen, (not ammonia or nitrogen equivalent to ammonia), available 
phosphoric acid and potash (not sulphate of potash, or potash sulphate, or 
potash equivalent to or equal to sulphate). The law in the State of North 
Carolina, which in most respects is the best in the country and the most 
rigidly enforced, allows no sliding scale of percentages on the bags, but re- 
quires that the sack shall have printed on it the actual percentage of nitrogen, 
phosphoric acid and potash. Only this and nothing more. If all the 
States would pass a similar law there would soon be an end to the long so- 
called analyses printed on the bags, simply for the purpose of befogging the 
farmer into the belief that the sack contains a great deal more than it does. 

We have at hand from a correspondent a sample of a commercial fer- 
tilizer, on which is printed the following: 

Guaranteed Analysis. 

Ammonia 2.10 to 2.50 per cent. 

Total phosphorio acid 8.50 to 9.50 per cent. 

Available phosphoric acid 7.40 to 8.40 per cent. 

Potash (actual) 2.15 to 2.65 per cent. 

Equivalent to potash sulphate 4.10 to 5.25 per cent. 

Magnesia, organic matter, etc 60 to 70 per cent. 

88 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

Now all this means that the article has in it, if the analysis is correct, 
nitrogen 1.73 per cent., available phosphoric acid 7.40 per cent, and potash 
2.15 per cent. All the rest is put there to make the farmer think there is 
a great deal in it, while it is, in fact, a very low grade fertilizer. The "organic 
matter, etc.," is probably "filler" put in to make bulk. This is but a single 
sample of thousands of similar "analyses" on fertilizer sacks all over this 
country. The manufacturer who cannot state just what his article contains 
must be a poor manufacturer, or puts the sliding scale there to crawl out on. 
If you see a sliding scale of percentage you may be sure that the lowest 
figure comes nearest to what is the actual per cent. But there is a great 
deal less of actual swindling in fertilizers since the laws for the inspection 
have been adopted in nearly all the States, and the farmer dealing with 
firms of reputation can usually depend on getting what he orders. The 
great objection to the ready mixed goods is not their quality, but the fact 
that they are sold at too high a price, as is evident from the fact that buyers 
at retail can get the same plant-foods for less money. Bulletin No. 139 of 
the New Jersey Station, says in regard to home mixing of fertilizers: "Home 
mixing has been carried on with entire satisfaction by a number of farmers 
for several years. The Station has encouraged these efforts as of value to 
the individuals themselves and an object lesson to their neighbors, since it 
renders them familiar with the kinds and forms of plant-food, teaches them 
to think of pounds of nitrogen, phosphoric acid and potash, rather than tons 
of a particular phosphate, and in general unfolds the mystery which envel- 
opes the make-up of fertilizers in the minds of many." 

Bulletin No. 53 of the Maine Station well says: "That which transcends 
everything else in the purchase of fertilizers is to know what you want and 
then get it — get it as cheap as you can and still get the plant food needed. 
No one would think of buying salt for sugar because it can be obtained at 
a lower price, but the writer has knowledge of the purchase of nitrogen when 
potash was needed, simply because the trade value of a nitrogenous fertilizer 
as printed exceeded its selling price." 

Tn Bulletin No. 132 of the New Jersey Station, a number of analyses 
are given of fertilizers mixed by farmers for their own use, and the results 
show that the proportions of the different constituents was as well main- 
tainded as in the manufactured goods. "As a method of economical pur- 
chase of fertilizers, either mixing them at home, or having them especially 
compounded at the factory, seems to be equally recommended by the experi- 
ence here reported. This opportunity of saving in the purchase of fertilizers 
is open to all who will study their crops and soils, learn what they need, and 
secure it by the more business-like method. It is a combination of com- 

Mixing Fertilizers on the Farm — 89 

prehension, eo-operation and cash that effects these reductions in the cost of 
fertilizer supplies." This is the secret of the whole matter. The prices of 
ready mixed fertilizers have to be kept high because of the long credits and 
bad debts, and the men who buy them have to pay these bad debts of others 
in advanced prices. Buying the materials for cash in wholesale^ots through 
a combination of neighbors will always result in a great saving. It is far 
better to borrow the money to pay cash for fertilizers than to pay the credit 

Bulletin No. 65 of the Vermont Agricultural Experiment Station, says : 
"Home mixtures made in this State furnished from 30 to 50 per cent, more 
plant-food at the same cost than did average manufacturers' mixtures." 

Dr. C. W. Dabney, • Director of the Tennessee Experiment Station, 
^vrites: "Farmers who take their life work seriously and study earnestly the 
experimental work of the State Stations, for the purpose of informing them- 
selves with regard to the useful ingredients of fertilizers, the proper mode 
of applying them and such matters, are getting more and more into the 
habit of buying the raw materials for fertilizers and mixing them themselves, 
or else they have a compound mixed at a factory according to their own 
formula and from materials of their own selection." 

Farmers' Bulletin No. 84, U. S. Department of Agriculture, treats of 
the various objections raised to the practice of home mixing. "Farmers are 
persuaded that the compounding of fertilizers is an intricate and difficult 
matter, requiring extensive acquaintance with chemistry, costly machinery 
and great technical skill. The case well illustrates the old adage, that a 
half truth is a whole falsehood. The production and manufacture of fer- 
tilizing materials — that is, the selection, quarrying, grinding and acidulation 
of phosphatic rock; the drying and grinding of slaughter house refuse, the 
production and refining of such materials as nitrate of soda, sulphate of 
ammonia and muriate of potash — all these are distinctly manufacturing 
processes, which require chemical or technical knowledge, skill in manipula- 
tion, and expensive machinery. But these operations are entirely separate 
and distinct from the compounding of mixed fertilizers. Each of the 
materials named comes from the manufacturer in condition to be used by 
itself as a fertilizer, and each one is so used for special purposes. The com- 
pounding of these materials under a proprietary brand into a mixed fertilizer, 
is no more a manufacture than is the mixing of a ration of corn meal and 
bran to be fed to a cow. The only difference is that the ration which is 
designed to be distributed uniformly to thousands or millions of plants 
requires to be more carefully mixed than that fed to a single cow. If we 
were feeding each plant by itself no mixing would be necessary, or if we 

90 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

were giving the different elements of a ration at different times; as for 
instance, when we apply superphosphate and muriate of potash to wheat in 
the fall and follow with nitrate of soda in the spring. This point, of the 
essential difference between those operations which are legitimately called 
manufacturing and those which are simply mixing, should be clearly under- 
stood. When the farmer learns that he can mix his own fertilizers and 
thereby materially reduce their cost, the use of fertilizing materials will be 
largely increased, and the final outcome will be a benefit and not an injury 
to the legitimate- trade in fertilizers." 

This is just what the writer has been insisting upon through the agri- 
cultural press for years, but such is the short sighted policy of the manu- 
facturers of fertilizing materials, who are generally at the same time mixers 
of the materials in any number of fancy brands, many of them identical 
except in name, that they put all sorts of obstacles in the way of the farmer's 
getting the raw materials for mixing his fertilizers at home, and constantly 
endeavor to make the farmer think that their process of putting these ma- 
terials together is a matter of great skill and experience, and cannot be done 
without the use of expensive machinery. 

Machinery is used, of course, in the mixing on a large scale, as a matter 
of economy, and to increase the profit to the mixer. 

Bulletin No. 173 of the New York (Geneva) Station showed that the 
average selling price of mixed fertilizers in that State per ton averaged 
$6.25 more than the separate ingredients could be bought for at retail. Inas- 
much as this was far higher than the actual cost to the large mixer, it can 
easily be seen that the profits of mixing on a large scale must be large, and 
that the wise farmer can easily save, even in buying in retail quantities, a 
considerable sum. 

Bulletin No. 45 of the Maine Station says; "One of the claims which 
fertilizer manufacturers are making for the superiority of their goods over 
home mixed fertilizers is that the former are manufactured. This should 
mean, if it means anything, that the goods are more evenly mixed, and 
therefore, more uniform. In the tables given on the previous pages it will 
be found that in some instances in which two samples of the same brand have 
been taken and analyzed, that they differ from each other quite materially. 
The samples were taken with a great deal of care by experienced men from a 
large number of packages. It would not seem difficult to make home mixed 
fertilizers which should run as uniformly as some of the brands here re- 
ported upon. 

Bulletin No. 79 of the Kentucky Station says in regard to the selection 
of the proper fertilizers, "Their profitable use will depend upon a knowledge 

Mixing Fertilizers on the Farm — 91 

of the needs of the particulaf soil to which they are to be applied, and the 
requirements of the crop to be grown. The latter knowledge has been gained 
once for all for most farm crops by a scientific study of these crops, but the 
needs of the soil must in most cases be learned by the farmer himself, either 
from systematic field experiments, or by observation and experience. If it 
is necessary for a farmer to use commercial fertilizers, and he is working upon 
a kind of soil that has not already been tested, we believe it will pay him to 
learn its needs by carrying out systematic experiments with fertilizers. The 
experiments made at this Station amply illustrate this. It would be very 
unprofitable to buy phosphates for use on soil like that of the Station farm, 
but potash salts could be profitably used there on most crops. This is because 
the soil is already rich in phosphates. But if it were deficient in phosphates, 
as is the case with many soils in this State, it would be unprofitable to use 
potash salts alone, and one would have to supply phosphates. It is, therefore, 
necessary in purchasing a commercial fertilizer to consider, first, what our 
soil needs for the crop to be raised, and then to look for the fertilizer contain- 
ing most of these substances, in an available form, as shown by its chemical 
analysis and guaranteed by the manufacturer, at the least cost. It is well 
to bear in mind, also, that nitrogen compounds are the most expensive con- 
stituents of commercial fertilizers, and if we can keep up our nitrogen supply 
by means of clover, cow peas, or other leguminous plants, or by barnyard 
manure, and purchase only such phosphates and potash as may be needed, we 
will have accomplished a great saving." Here, too, is a strong argument for 
home mixing, since it will rarely happen that we can get a ready mixed fer- 
tilizer exactly suited to our soil and crops without buying at the same time 
something we do not need. Bulletin No. 80 of the Vermont Station shows 
that in the past spring (1900) the average price of mixed fertilizers was 
$28.73, and the average value, based on the retail price of the ingredients, 
was $18.08, another evidence of the saving to be made in home mixing. 

But the most complete investigation of the value of home mixing of fer- 
tilizers has been made at the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station. It is 
claimed by the factory mixers of fertilizers that in using tankage as a source 
of nitrogen they have a great advantage in the fact that they treat their 
tankage with sulphuric acid to render it more soluble, and hence far better 
than the untreated tankage used in the simple mixtures. It was shown by 
the experiment at the Ohio Station that this causes great loss of nitrogen 
from fall application to the wheat crop and "it follows, therefore, that if the 
treatment of tankage with sulphuric acid serves to make its nitrogen as solu- 
ble as that in sulphate of ammonia — and this is precisely what is claimed for 
it — then such treatment is injurious and not beneficial to him who would 

92 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

use tankage in the fall as a carrier of nitrogen 'to wheat.* * * * Our experi- 
ments do not support the claim that the acidulation of tankage is necessary, 
unless the tankage has been adulterated with leather scraps or similar 
material; they rather show that it is a disadvantage. * * * The sulphuric 
♦icid used in acidulation costs only about one-third as much per pound as the 
fertilizer is sold for. In point of fact, the manufacturer can very well afford 
to pay $6 to $8 per ton for sulphuric acid to be sold again at $20 to $30. * * 
In the field experiments of this Station factory mixed fertilizers, made by 
firms of high standing, produce no greater crops than home mixed fertilizers 
of equivalent composition. The cost of the factory mixed fertilizers was 
greater by 50 to 90 per cent, than that of the equivalent home mixtures. 
Physical and chemical examination of the two forms of mixtures show that 
the factory mixed fertilizer is not more homogenous in its character than that 
mixed by the farmer. Fertilizer materials may be as perfectly mixed with a 
shovel on a barn floor or in a large box as by the most elaborate mixing 

how to mix fertilizer. 

There is a widely prevalent idea that the chemical constituents of a fer- 
tilizer must have a "filler" mixed with them to make bulk. This notion has 
arisen from the fact that fertilizer mixers commonly use worthless materials 
for fillers in low grade goods, so as to be able to sell them at an apparently 
low price, while still getting full prices for all that is of value in them. The 
various fertilizing constituents are already combined in such a way that no 
further filler is needed, and they only need to be mixed in the desired propor- 
tions. This mixing we have shown can be as well done on a barn floor as by 
the most elaborate machinery. 

Having determined from a formula the proportions in which the articles 
are to be mixed, is is a simple matter to spread them out in layers on the barn 
floor, and then having set up an ordinary sand screen to shovel the mass 
through the screen repeatedly, beating up all the lumps, till a perfect mixture 
is made. After the mass has been shovelled through the screen two or three 
times it will be sufficiently mixed for all practical purposes. In fact, if we 
could distribute the materials over the land in the exact proportions needed, 
there would be no necessity for mixing them at all, but this would take a 
great deal more labor than mixing and spreading at one going over the 

We give elsewhere a series of formulas adapted to various crops on dif- 
erent soils. These are largely for complete fertilizer mixtures containing due 

Mixing Fertilizers on the Farm — 93 

proportions of nitrogen, phosphoric acid and potash. But it must not be 
supposed that these are in every case necessary or profitable. They have been 
devised from the study of the manurial requirements of the various crops, as- 
suming that the soil needs them all. But we will try to show how, by good 
farming and a proper rotation of crops, we can avoid the constant application 
of commercial fertilizers to every crop grown. The Experiment Stations 
have devoted so much time and labor to the study of the manurial require- 
ments of crops that farmers are apt to imagine that all they have to do is to 
suit a fertilizer to the crop in order to make it. 



The maintaining and increasing of the productive capacity of the soil 
in a profitable manner should be the ultimate aim in the use of manures and 
fertilizers of any kind, and not the mere speculating on how much sale crop 
we can get through the use of a certain fertilizer mixture. This has been 
the course over large sections of the country, especially among the cotton 
farmers of the South, until with the majority of the farmers the first question 
asked is, "How much and what kind of fertilizer shall I use to get a certain 
crop ?" Men frequently write to me that they have a certain field which last 
year made, say, ten bushels of corn per acre, and they want to know what and 
how much fertilizer they shall apply to that same field to make it produce 50 
bushels of corn per acre. We have to reply, of course, that it cannot be done 
in that way. The physical and mechanical condition of the soil has as much 
to do with its productivity as the amount of plant-food it may contain. When 
a field, through a long course of bad treatment, has been deprived of its 
humus, and has gotten into a bad mechanical condition, no amount of fertil- 
izer will at once restore it to its normal state of productiveness. It took 
years to complete the robbery of the soil and years of proper farming will be 
required to restore it. 


There are many men in the South who imagine that they are farming 
profitably by growing cotton year after year on the same ground with an an- 
nual application of fertilizers, simply because they show some profit over the 
cost, and not reflecting that they could secure greater profits by proper rota- 
tion and a smaller expenditure of fertilizers. As compared with real farm- 
ing, their cultivation can easily be shown to be unprofitable. Especially is 
this true when the crops are the cereal grains. At the Ohio Station a long 


The Maintenance of Fertility — 95 

series of experiments have been made with various rotations and also with 
cereal crops grown on the same soil year after year with the use of commer- 
cial fertilizers. They thus summarize the results of the continuous crop- 
ping. "At the prices at which mixed fertilizers are sold in Ohio the attempt 
to furnish all the nitrogen, as well as all the phosphoric acid and potash, re- 
quired to produce increase in cereal crops grown in continuous culture, has 
invariably resulted in pecuniary loss, although very large increase of crop 
has been thus produced." "The rotation of cereals with nitrogen gathering 
crops, therefore, has been shown to be absolutely essential to the profitable 
use of commercial fertilizers in any form." 

This confirms all that we have found through a long experience in the 
cultivation of the soil. The constant use of complete fertilizer mixtures for 
the production of sale crops only, has brought poverty to the soil over large 
sections of the country, and of course poverty to the cultivator. It is for the 
purpose of aiding in the bringing about of a change in this respect, and of 
showing how fertilizers may be used profitably for the improvement of the 
condition of the farm and the farmer alike, that we have undertaken the work 
of writing this book. The writer is a Southern man, born and raised in the 
South, and it has been his life's work to do all that he can to aid the 
farmers of the South especially, to the adoption of better methods, for he is 
convinced that the wasteful use of fertilizers and the continuous cropping 
of the land in sale crops is responsible for the sad condition of farms and 
farmers in the South. And it is not only in the South, but in. other parts 
of the country, where the farmers are just beginning to realize that their soil 
is becoming run down, and needs help, that there is danger that they, too, 
will imagine that in the bag of fertilizer they can find all that they need, and 
they are beginning to start in the same road towards "old fields" that the 
South has travelled. The old, down hill road has been an easy one to follow, 
and required little thought; the new one calls for careful study and experi- 
mentation on the part of the farmer. He can no longer succeed by the old, 
happy-go-lucky methods, but must become a student and a book farmer to a 
great extent. By maintaining the fertility of his land he can alone hope to 
succeed. This cannot be done by an annual gambling in fertilizers and the 
growing of a single crop year after year on the same land. No matter what 
the crops are, whether wheat on the plains of the jSTorthwest, corn on the 
prairies of the Middle West, tobacco in Virginia or Ohio, or cotton in the 
South, single cropping everywhere tends to soil exhaustion and the depletion 
of the farmer's resources. 

One characteristic of the Northern farmers in contrast to their brothers 
in the South, is the readiness with which they see errors in their work and 

96 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

make a change for the better, while the innate conservatism of the Southern 
farmer holds him longer in the old ruts than his Northern competitor. The 
great decrease in the wheat crop on the plains of Dakota showed plainly that 
the wheat growers there were, as we have said, straight on the road to "old 
fields" as those of the South have long been. But of late, the farmers of 
Dakota are realizing their error, and are going into cattle. They can do this 
all the more profitably now that the sheep have driven the cattle from the 
great ranges of Colorado, Utah and other sections where cattle formerly 
were raised in immense numbers. These great ranges of public land no 
longer carry their herds of cattle, for sheep have gotten possession ; the cattle 
of the future will not be raised on the free ranges, but on the lands belonging 
to the farmer, and the cattle feeding of the Eastern States will once more 
become profitable. The Dakota wheat growers are wise enough to see the 
error of their one-cropping, and to take advantage of the changed conditions 
in the cattle industry. Having taken this step before the "old fields" were 
present in all their hideous barrenness, the Dakota farmer will have the great 
advantage of his Southern brother in the unexhausted condition of his soil 
and its capacity for the production of grass. But if the farmers in a section 
where cattle must be housed and fed for nine months and where great storage 
must be made of winter feed, can produce beef cattle at a profit, what should 
the farmers of sections which can produce the finest of forage plants in the 
greatest abundance and where the cattle can roam in the fields nearly every 
day in the year, do? We cannot too often insist that there can be no real 
prosperity on the farm, no real home making and nowhere near the profit in 
farming, with one crop, and selling that in the raw state. The growing of 
forage crops and the keeping of live stock lies at the very foundation of all 
rational methods of soil improvement and the maintenance of the fertility 
of our acres. The farmer who transforms some of his raw products into a 
more finished product always realizes a larger price for his product than the 
man who constantly sells only the raw product. Some years ago the writer 
made a visit to Nebraska for the purpose of studying the growth and manu- 
facture of beet sugar as practiced there. We were struck with the beauty of 
the wide spread of corn fields, and took occasion to talk with the farmers not 
only about their beet growing, but in regard to other crops. Asking one Ger- 
man farmer what corn was worth per bushel, he replied that he believed it was 
about 20 to 25 cents, but that he did not sell corn as some of his neighbors 
did. His corn went into hogs and they carried themselves to the depot, and 
he got 50 cents a Imshel for his corn and had tlie manure left, though he 
seemed to care little for that, for like most farmers on the new prairies, he 
thought the soil inexhaustible, like those further east who are now buying 

The Maiisttenance of Fertility — 97 

fertilizers. I said to tliis man that his course was wise, but that he might 
go still further, for I had noticed that in the thriving young city near him 
I ho grocery stores sold only the packed hams and bacon from Chicago, and 
that his pigs had paid the freight both ways and a profit to the packer, and 
that he could do some home packing and sell the bacon as well as they and 
probably get a better price than the packer's meat brought. The German 
seemed to catch the idea and remarked that he believed he would get 75 cents 
for his corn. As I write, the hams of the packing houses can be bought at 
letail here for 10 to 15 cents per pound, while at the same stores the famous 
hams of the Southeast Virginia farmers are selling for 22 cents per pound. 
By the production of a superior quality of cured product, the farmer can 
realize large prices for his grain and not have to take what the market offers 
for the raw product. Lay it down as a law that no country or community 
ever became permanently rich by the sale of its raw products only. To some 
extent the South is beginning to learn this, and all over the country cotton 
mills are being built and run at a profit and the labor drawn to them from 
the farms has to be fed by the farms, and a new inducement is offered to the 
Southern farmer to produce food crops, as his market is growing more rapidly 
than its supply. 


The Ohio Station, in the series of experiments undertaken for the pur- 
pose of demonstrating the best method for maintaining the fertility of the 
soil, arrived at the following conclusion : "Thus far in these experiments, the 
surplus nitrogen accumulated by a crop of clover, the roots only being left in 
the ground, has not been more than sufficient to satisfy the demands of the 
one crop immediately following the clover.* * * * It appears to be clear, 
therefore, that under the conditions of this experiment, which is made on 
soils of reduced fertility, and on which there has been no systematic culture 
of leguminous crops previous to the beginning of this test, we are not main- 
taining in the soil a supply of nitrogen sufficient for maximum crop produc- 
tion by simply growing one crop of clover in five years, the roots of which 
only are left in the ground, the tops being made into hay and removed from 
the land." Hence it is evident that where it is desirable to have a rotation 
extending over five years there must be another leguminous crop introduced 
in order that the supply of nitrogen may be maintained for the production of 
maximum crops. This can easily be accomplished in a three or four year 
rotation, and farmers in sections where it has long been the practice to run 
the land in grass as long as the mowing could be kept good, before going back 

98 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

to corn and small grain, are beginning to realize that they have been losing 
greatly by the practice, and that permanent pastures and a short rotation in 
the cultivated land are the things to be sought for. The reason for the desira- 
bility of the short rotation and the more frequent bringing in of the legumes 
is obvious if we reflect on the nature of the nitrogen. Most of the nitrogen 
collected by the legumes is in the form of organic matter in the roots left in 
the ground. We have shown that green plants do not use nitrogen till in the 
form of a nitrate. Hence this organic matter must go through the process 
of decay, and of change in the soil into a nitrate. This is, as we have seen, 
accomplished through the agency of the nitrifying microbes in the soil. When 
these have done their work, the nitrogen contained in the clover or pea roots 
is transformed into a nitrate, and if not then at once used by the plants it is 
rapidly washed out of the soil. Therefore, if there is a long interval between 
the crops of legumes, we cannot keep up the supply of nitrogen in this way, 
and will have to resort to the purchase of complete fertilizers, which a short 
rotation would render needless. But as organic matter accumulates in the 
soil, forming humus, it is probable that the complete nitrification may be 
slower by reason of the increasing acidity which is less favorable to the 
activity of the nitrifying organisms. Then it is that the use of lime becomes 
an important adjunct and restores the favorable conditions for nitrification. 
With a three year rotation, a light dressing of lime once in each alternate 
round of the rotation (or once in six years), will be found a great aid in the 
development of the productivity of the soil. Or even a still lighter applica- 
tion every round of the rotation may prove best. 


While we are convinced that the greatest evil in farming has been con- 
tinual cropping with a single crop, and that the only way towards the im- 
provement of the soil is through a diversified farming, this docs not mean that 
.'1 farmer should grow a little of everything his climate will produce. He 
should study his conditions carefully, and find out what is the best money 
crop for his section and his land, and then should contrive a rotation intended 
to best promote the success of his money crop. 

The wise farmer will always have a specialty, to the increased production 
of which he will bend all his energies, while endeavoring in every possible 
way to reduce the cost of its production by making his subsidiary crops aid in 
the defraying of the expenses. His specialty may be cotton, tobacco, wheat, 
corn or any other particular crop, and his aim should be to grow the money 
crop more cheaply and at the same time to greater perfection than anyone 

The Maintenance op Fertility — 99 

around liiin, if possible. It is not always the sign of the best farming for a 
man to grow a specially large crop of something on a small area of land. The 
phenomenal yields of corn, for instance, which have been produced in compe- 
titions for premiums, are interesting mainly as showing what can l)e done 
with heavy feeding and good culture, but they are usually financial failures. 
What we should aim at is to get the widest possible margin between the cost 
of the crop and its sale value. This calls for skillful management of the 
land, and the best of cultivation, as well as a wise selection of what is to be 
sold from the farm. Some of our Southern friends have imagined that the 
way out of the old one-crop farming is a diversification by which the farmer 
shall grow someting of everything his climate will allow, and shall not buy 
anything which he can grow. This sort of aimless diversification is not what 
we want, but a systematized agriculture suited to the conditions under 
which the farmers live. The cotton farmer in the warm soils of the 
Southern seaboard could doubtless grow some wheat, but he will soon find 
that he can buy all the flour he needs more cheaply and of better quality then 
he can grow the wheat and have it manufactured on a small scale. The 
farmer in Southern ]\Iaryland could doubtless grow a little cotton, as they 
once did under the old home manufacturing practice, but he would soon find 
that he had better stick to his wheat or tobacco and buy his cotton goods. 
The same rule holds good in all parts of the country. The money crop of 
each section has become such through the operation of natural laws, and none 
can afford to ignore these. 


When a farmer moves from one section to another having an entirely 
different soil and climate, he needs to study his new conditions well. He will 
in fact, have to unlearn a great deal and to learn things that he did not for- 
merly need to learn. Going into a new section, one is apt to imagine that 
he can do a great deal better than the people already thel-e, and as he has 
been a good farmer in his old location, he is apt to think that the same 
methods which were best there will be the best in his new location. The 
people among whom you have come may not be farming as well as they do 
in the section where you formerly lived, but there will always be practices in 
every old settled section which are the outgrowth of experience in that partic- 
ular soil and climate, and which a newcomer cannot afford to ignore. North- 
ern men coming into the cotton belt, as a rule, always want to grow something 
else rather than cotton. They see that under the old methods, the cotton 
farmers and the cotton farms have grown poor, while the fertilizer manufac- 


K)() — Choi' Ci rowing and Crop Feeding 

turers have grown rich. They therefore jump to the conclusion that cotton and 
fertilizers are bad things, and are wrong in both conclusions. The warm 
coast plain of the South could have no better money croj) than cotton, and 
the commercial fertilizers, while bringing disaster to the farm and the farmer 
v/hen used in the wasteful way in which they have been used, can be made, 
in the hands of a good farmer, the most potent means for l)uilding up the 
fertility of the soil. For a man to go into the cotton l)elt and engage in 
general farming and ignore cotton would be a great mistake, for no farmer, 
as a rule, can afford to ignore the money crop of his section, unless he has 
some specialty which takes him out of the list of general farmers. It is 
true that there are large sections of the Southern uplands where cotton is 
grown and where it should never have been grown, and there, with the growth 
of knowledge in regard to farm methods, the farmers wall soon learn that 
their lands are better adapted to grain, grass and stock than to cotton; and 
in other parts of the country the methods are undergoing a gradual change 
so that each particular section is finding out what it can best do, and what 
it should let alone. Specialization, with a properly arranged rotation, is the 
road to success. The growing of a single crop year after year on the same 
land, no matter how much commercial fertilizer you may buy, leads finally to 
poverty of soil and of the farmer, too. 

No matter what the crop the result is pretty sure to be the same. In 
the great peach growing section of ^laryland and Delaware, the men who 
have been, as a rule, most successful in the long run, have not been the men 
who put their entire land into peaches; but rather those who recognized the 
adaptability of their soil and climate to peach culture, who made the short- 
lived peach trees simply a part of their farming and gave them the best at- 
tention, knowing that in a few years the orchard must go back to crops of a 
different nature, and must be kept up in its fertility to correspond with the 
other fields when one of these was taken for the orchard. Prof. Roberts in 
his book, "The Farmstead," says, "Many farms in Western N. Y. have been 
almost exclusivel;^ devoted to the raising of grapes, which, when al)undant, or 
moderately so, sold at ruinous prices. It is noticed that where only an 
eighth or fourth of a farm was devoted to vines, the yield was not only pro- 
portionately larger, but the quality better than where nearly all the land was 
used as a vineyard. Where diversified agriculture was carried on to a limited 
extent and plantations were restricted, the low price of grapes made no serious 
inroads on the income. Where all the land was given to grapes, work was 
intermittent, the farmer being overtasked at one season of the year and idle 
at another. The demoralizing effect on the farmers and their families of this 
army of unrestrained youths and loungers of the city, which, for a brief 

The Maintenance of Fertility — 101 

period, swarms into the districts devoted to specialized crops, as grapes, ber- 
ries and hops, is marked." Single cropping is destructive to home life 
wherever it is practiced. 

In the cotton growing sections, the negro tenants, who grow no other 
crop, are idle during the winter; as it takes about all their share of the crop 
to pay the merchant who carried them during the summer, they are in a 
measure forced to live upon the country, and the whole system is an encour- 
agement to vice. If the tenants were compelled to farm in a systematic man- 
ner it would tend towards the building up of the land and the increased pros- 
perity of the tenant. There is no hope for the permanent improvement of 
the Southern cotton lands so long as the "cropping" system prevails. 



The whole of the cotton growing section of the South Atlantic States 
furnishes an object lesson of the ruin that comes about through the inju- 
dicious use of commercial fertilizers, and the growing of cotton on the same 
land year after year. This is most plainly seen on the rolling, red clay 
uplands. Steep hillsides, which a wise agriculture would have left in the 
protecting forest cover, have been cleared and cultivated in cotton. As the 
humus in the soil was exhausted, the red clay tended to wash into gullies 
under the great down pour of summer rains that prevail. Year after year the 
gullies have been made larger till cultivation became impossible, and now all 
over the upland country of the South these ruined and irreclaimable hillsides 
are staring the traveler by rail in the face, and giving a bad impression of the 
whole country; and all the rivers run loaded with the wasted fertility of the 
soil. Thousands of acres of these gullied hillsides can only be redeemed by 
a restoration of the great forest cover, which should never have been removed 
m the first place. The soil and the thousands of dollars' worth of fertilizers 
which have been wasted in the culture of these hills are both gone, and the 
land has been literally used up for a few crops of cotton. 

Under former conditions, when the large plantations with their army 
of slaves were in their prime, a notion prevailed that cotton was the one crop 
that would not fit into an improving rotation. Before the introduction of 
commercial fertilizers the practice was to cultivate a piece of upland as long 
as it would pay to grow the crop, and then to take up another piece, letting 
the first grow up in pines. 

With the change in labor conditions, and the introduction of commercial 
fertilizers, it was found that the old land could be made to produce a crop, 
and then the farmers imagined that all they had to do to get a crop of cotton 
was to use commercial fertilizers. These have been mainly purchased on 
credit, with the invariable result that the manufacturers, in order to protect 


Commercial Fertilizers for Maintenance of Fertility — 103 

themselves against loss, have been obliged to charge high prices for their 
goods. So long as the cotton only, was sold, and the seed was returned to the 
land, the depreciation was slower. But of late years the great demand for 
the seed in the manufacture of oil has led to many selling the seed outright, 
imagining that they were making an additional profit from the crop. While 
it is true that some farmers exchange their cotton seed for meal and oil to 
advantage, there are thousands who sell them regularly. This is especially 
true of the tenant croppers whose interest in the land is less than their inter- 
est in the immediate crop. The oil, being one of the products of the plant 
which was derived from the assimilation of carbon from the air, has no value 
as a manure to the farmer, and where a fair exchange can be made, it is better 
for the farmer to make the exchange and get the more readily available nitro- 
gen in meal, while the hulls will make a good absorbent of manure. It 
is true that they are largely used as food for stock, but they are at best only 
a makeshift of the poor farmer, for there is not a section in all the cotton belt 
where far better food may not be grown, while at the same time the crop that 
furnishes the food will help the land. 

One of the saddest sights one sees daily in this cotton country is a farmer, 
or rather a man who is cultivating the soil, hauling home from the city oil 
mill, baled cotton seed hulls to feed his mules with. And this in a country 
where the finest crops of the best hay in the world can be grown from the 
cow pea, and the land made better for cotton production by reason of the 
forage growth. The whole crop, seed and all, was sold, and now the farmer 
l)uys back the poorest part of the crop to feed the mules. And this is not 
the worst of the whole sad business, for the cotton must not only pay for the 
mule feed, but for the mules themselves, for the idea of keeping a breeding 
animal never seems to enter the minds of the men who are working in the one 
crop of cotton; the cotton must carry the whole burden while the soil gets 
poorer and poorer. I write of these things particularly because they are daily 
before me, but there are farmers whose interest is in other crops, who are 
doing as badly as the cotton farmers. We recently traveled and spoke at 
Farmers' Institutes in the State of Maryland, in sections where the farmers 
are improving in many respects, and are paying attention to stock and the 
dairy, and over the wide, level fields where the corn binder could run with 
]irofit, I saw the old time method of topping the corn and stripping the blades 
still practiced, and the stalks and husks left in the field; thus sacrificing a 
large amount of food that the shredder would have turned to profit in the 
feeding of cattle. In the great corn growing sections of the Central West, 
too, we see the same waste of food and lack of interest in the complete utili- 
zation of the greatest forage crop of America, the Indian corn crop. There 

104 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

is not a section of all the corn growing belt where there is not much of this 
waste, and where thousands of cattle could not be fed instead of the hundreds 
that are fed. And even in the greatest corn growing sections of Ohio, Indi- 
ana and Illinois, there are farmers who write to us asking for fertilizer 
formulas for the restoration of the productiveness of their lands; while they 
are annually wasting food that would turn them a profit in feeding, and give 
manure for the acres that are hungry for it. Properly managed, there is no 
part of the corn plant that cannot be profitably utilized as food for stock, 
and the greatest leak today in American agriculture is in the waste of corn 
stover all over the land. No farmer, no matter how fresh and fertile his 
soil, can afford to plow corn stalks into his land, when, by proper treatment 
that will largely increase the stock supporting capacity of his farm. While 
commercial fertilizers are useful and even indispensable in these high pressure 
days, no farmer can afford to neglect the manurial resources of the farm 
itself, or waste what would give him profit if rightly handled and fed. 


In all the true cotton country, the sandy and level lands along the coast 
and extending one or two hundred miles or more inland, and the widespread 
prairie lands of Texas, cotton can be grown in an improving rotation as the 
special money crop to the greatest advantage. In all the South Atlantic 
coast country the use of commercial fertilizers in some way has become a ne- 
cessity. The Texas cotton growers as yet may not feel the need of them, but 
it is only a question of a few years when they will need them, unless a wiser 
method of farming with cotton is adopted. The Experiment Stations in the 
cotton country have spent a great deal of time and labor on the study of the 
manurial requirements of the cotton crop, and far too little time on the dem- 
onstration of the most economical methods of meeting these requirements. 
Formulas without number have been devised for cotton and other crops, until 
the farmer has been led to suppose that all he needs to grow the crop is a 
formula for a fertilizer. While the investigations of the Stations have 
demonstrated the needs of certain plants in the way of food, with great pre- 
cision, there is now a great need for the demonstration of economical methods 
for the bringing about of these conditions in the soil. While it has been 
demonstrated that the cotton plant needs nitrogen, phosphoric acid and 
potash in certain proportions, it by no means follows that these should be 
purchased annually for the purpose, if by proper farming we can accumulate 
any of them in the soil for the crop. The great need in all the cotton country, 
the need that no purchase of fertilizers will ever fully meet, and without 

Commercial Fertilizers for Maintenance of Fertility — 105 

which the development of the productive character of the Southern uplands 
must be slow ; is the keeping of cattle and sheep, and the growing of forage 
crops for their feeding in a profitable manner. "But," said a cotton farmer 
to the writer, when he was urging the feeding of cattle as the very foundation 
of profitable farming, North or South, "I do not want to be pestered with 
cattle, for I can buy a lot of fertilizer every spring and make a profit out of 
it in the growing of cotton." This man, fortunately, has a large body of very 
fine land, well supplied with humus, and on which commercial fertilizers act 
very finely; doubtless what he said was true and that he does make a profit 
in cotton farming with heavy doses of fertilizer on his land. But it would 
be eary to demonstrate that the profit would be much larger and the outlay 
for fertilizers much less by farming instead of merely planting his land. 
But there are thousands of farms in the South which have been so com- 
pletely run down by bad culture that even the application of fertilizers 
by a Station formula gives no profit. It is a common practice among 
the larger cotton farmers to figure everything by the mule. The 
area of land does not enter into the calculation, but only what they 
can clear from each man and mule in the cotton field. At ten 
cents per pound, a man and a mule can make, on land yielding half a 
bale per acre, about $600 worth of cotton. This $600 must pay for the fer- 
tilizer used on the land, and must feed the mule and the negro for a year, 
while the same land probably could be, in a little while, brought to the pro- 
duction of a bale per acre with less direct expenditure of fertilizers, is farmed 
instead of being merely planted. In all of our Southern cities the refrig- 
erator cars from Chicago are daily bringing beef for our consumption, in a 
country where more and better forage can be grown than in the West; and 
where men are planting thousands of acres in cotton with hardly a hoof on 
the land except the mules which work the fields in summer and loaf all 

A proper rotation for a cotton farm involves the feeding of stock. The 
feeding of stock requires forage and grain. The growing and harvesting 
of forage and grain and the feeding of stock in winter, requires regular 
labor from 3^ear's end to ^^ear's end, and gives steady emplojmient and a better 
class of laborers by reason of the steady work. It means cash coming in at 
different seasons, Avhich enables the farmer to buy for cash, and thus lightens 
greatly the expense falling on the cotton crop. It makes the farmer a reader 
and a student, and in this way has its influence on the home, for when people 
get interested in books they soon improve in the home making. 

During the late depression in the price of cotton the writer was con- 
tinually being appealed to by cotton farmers for information in regard to the 

106 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

culture of one crop or another, which the writers wanted to put in in the 
place of cotton. They had always been giving cotton too large a place, but 
their only idea of farming seemed to be the "making of a crop" of some 
kind to sell. Some wanted to go into broom corn, some into sunflowers for 
the oil, some into hops or some other crop about which they knew nothing, 
and many of which were entirely unsuited to the Southern climate, as the 
liop is. We have tried earnestly to impress on the writers that the only hope 
of the South lies in better farming with the staple crops we have, and an 
utter abandonment of the cotton cropping idea. "But I cannot afford to put 
my land in crops that will pay me less money than I can get from the land 
in cotton," is what we are continually being told by men whose cotton costs 
them 6 to 8 cents per pound, when by better farming and the growing of 
forage and feeding of cattle they could grow the cotton for half what it now 
costs them, and this, too, with a more liberal expenditure for fertilizers than 
they now use, but used in a different way. 


Bulletin No. 43 of the Georgia Station makes the following statement 
in regard to the rotation practiced there. "At the beginning of the ex- 
istence of the Station, nine years ago, a regular system of rotation was in- 
augurated, and with occasional modification, it has been continued to the 
present time. This system is what would be called a three year shift, and is 
as follows: First year: Oats, liberally fertilized, followed by cow peas with 
200 pounds of acid phosphate per acre. The cow peas, as a rule, were made 
into hay. 

Second year: Cotton, liberally fertilized. 

Third year : Corn. At the beginning liberally fertilized, but later, mod- 
erately fertilized. " Cow peas were sown in the corn, sometimes in hills at 
second plowing, but generally broadcast at the third plowing. Peas gathered 
for seed supply. A part of the corn for several years past has been cut down, 
stalk and all, and put into the silo. After the corn, the land was again sown 
in oats in October or early November, thus commencing a second round of the 
three year rotation. The Director does not hesitate to. say (and in this 
opinion he is sustained by the Agriculturist), that the increased productive- 
ness of the farm is due more to the adoption and maintenance of a regular 
system of rotation of crops, than to any one policy or practice." The bulletin 
further states : "On most small farms that are devoted to cotton and corn and 
minor crops, and where very few animals are kept, there will not be more 
manure from this source than will be required by the kitchen garden and the 

Commercial Fertilizers for Maintenance of Fertility — 107 

truck and forage patches around the residence and barn. For the outlying 
fields, more or less remote from the house, reliance should be placed on the 
system of rotation already outlined, in which small grain and cow peas are 
leading features, aided by a judicious use of concentratetd fertilizers. As the 
system develops, and after it has been in operation a few years, the necessity 
for these concentrated fertilizers will be less urgent, a smaller quantity will 
be required, and increasing profits will accrue." 

In the main there can be no great objection to the plan of the Georgia 
Station. What we do object to, however, is the statement that on small 
farms there will be proportionately less manure made than on a large one. If 
the rotation advised is followed, there will be a considerable amount of forage 
produced in the shape of oats straw, corn fodder and pea vine hay, and, 
whether the farm be large or small, this should be fed on the place, to cattle, 
and the result will be that there will be as much manure in proportion to the 
area under cultivation on the small farm as on a larger one under the three 
year rotation. A long experience in the culture of Southern lands has 
shown us that the great advantage of the three year rotation lies 
in the more frequent bringing on the soil of a leguminous feed 
crop, and th^ practicability of finally making manure enough to broadcast 
one-third of the area anniuilly. Dribbling a little manure around on the 
better lots about the barn will take a long time to restore the fertility of the 
farm, the produce of which is being used only on a limited area. The small 
farm is the place for the manure spreader with all of its manure-spreading 

In practicing a good three year rotation with cotton, and feeding all the 
forage grown, as well as the corn and oats, the cotton farmer can make live 
stock an important part of his profits while increasing his manure accumu- 
lation. Another point of importance in the Georgia rotation is the fact 
that every crop grown is supplied with commercial fertilizers in large or 
small quantity. At the usual market price for corn we have never been able 
to get back the cost of a complete fertilizer applied to this crop. The corn 
field is the place for the manurial accumulation of the farm, and a well 
arranged three year rotation will, in a few years, enable the farmer to make 
manure enough for his corn. Growing through the long heated season, when 
the nitrification is most active in the organic matter, com can make a better 
use of the manure than any other crop, while at the same time there will be a 
residue well incorporated with the soil that will carry the oats through without 
the further addition of commercial fertilizers. Then with a more liberal appli- 
cation of acid phosphate and potash to the oat stubble the great nitrogen- 
collecting crop of the rotation, the cow pea, will make a great crop of forage. 

108 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

and leave in the stubble nitrogen enough to carry the succeeding cotton crop, 
with the aid of the seed made by the preceding crop, or the meal exchanged 
for the seed. For a few years in the first start of the improvement of a worn 
cotton farm it may be necessary to add some acid phosphate to the cotton seed 
meal; this, too, can soon be dispensed with, and the only commercial fer- 
tilizers that need be bought through the whole three years will be the acid 
phosphate and potash for the peas. When you reach this point cotton 
growing becomes profitable, even if the price goes lower than the ordinary 
cropper can grow it for. Your well fed cattle will pay all the expenses of 
your farming, and leave the manure and the cotton crop as profit. This is 
no mere theory, for it is being done successfully, and in the hands of some 
enterprising men the crop of winter oats has assumed an importance from 
the great crops grown that makes them, too, an important money crop. The 
way out of the slavery of the cotton farmer to the fertilizer mixer lies 
through the growing of forage and the feeding of cattle, and the working of 
his land in a systematic rotation contrived for the best success of the cotton 
crop through making the best success with the forage crops. A permanent 
pasture for summer is an important part of the improvement of a cotton 
farm. Fortunately there is the Bermuda grass, a plant admirably suited to 
the needs of the cotton farmer. It suits his soil, it suits his climate, and it 
grows in perfect defiance of heat, and will enable him to carry through all 
the cattle he needs for feeding in the winter. 

With a permanent pasture of Bermuda grass, the cotton farmer never 
needs to pasture his fields where his crops are grown, but can keep them at 
all times growing something either for sale or feeding. A profitable and 
practicable rotation, then, for a cotton farm, will be to begin with land that 
has yet to be improved and gotten into a more productive condition. 

First year : Cotton, with a good dressing of a complete fertilizer broad- 
cast, at rate of 400 pounds per acre. In September sow among the cotton 15 
pounds per acre of crimson clover and one bushel of rye. If the clover fails, 
the rye will make a green cover crop to ward off waste in winter. During the 
winter get out and spread all the farm accumulation of manure on the rye 
and clover. 

Second year: Plow under the rye and clover with the manure for the 
corn crop. Turn them under deeply, and then work the crop rapidly and 
frequently, but perfectly level and shallow and avoid all earthing up with a 
plow. No turning plow should ever be allowed in the corn or cotton field. 
At last working, sow cow peas all through the corn. Gather your seed from 
these for the next 3'ear's sowing. Cut the corn and cure in shocks and disc 
the peas over and sow winter turf oats. 

Commercial Fertilizers for MAiNTEisrANCE of Fertility — 109 

Third year : Cut the oats and at once plow the land well and harrow Id 
300 pounds per acre of acid phosj)liate and 50 pounds of muriate of potash, 
and after a rain has followed the harrowing drill in one and a half bushels 
of peas per acre. When these are mature, and the first pods are turning 
vellow, c-ut them for hay and cure for feed. Disk the stubble over and sow 
Crimson clover in September to be plowed under for cotton in the spring. 
It will be well to sow a little rye as a shade to the young clover. With a 
good stand of clover and rye you will need little fertilizer for the cotton 
crop that now begins the rotation over again, but for a while it may be well 
to use a little acid phosphate on the cotton. One of the best plans for using 
the cotton seed is that devised by a good farmer in South Carolina. This is 
to bury the cotton seed in a furrow down the middles. If any seed sprouts 
it can easily be destroyed in the cultivation of the crop, and the seed will be 
rotted and ready to feed the plants when fruiting time comes and the roots 
are searching across the rows. After two or three rounds of this rotation 
you will find that the only place where you will need any commercial fer- 
tilizers is on the land to go into peas after oats. Year after year you will 
be getting more and more forage to feed cattle and can make more and more 
manure, till finally you will have no difficulty in getting enough to cover the 
corn-tend, if uniformly spread with the machine. And, better than all, you 
will have the cattle to bring in money in the spring, so that you can get upon 
a cash basis and reduce expenses through buying for cash. 

The general experience at the Stations in the cotton belt has been that the 
use of commercial fertilizers is of special value to the cotton cr6p in hastening 
its maturity, while in some instances the use of stable manure had the effect 
of delaying the maturing of the crop. The corn crop on the farm can use 
the crude manures from the stock to better advantage than the cotton crop, 
and by the time the land comes around in cotton again, the manure is better 
assimilated with the soil, and is in better condition to suit the cotton plant. 
In the continuous planting of cotton on the same land there has been noticed 
a cumulative effect from the previous dressings where these have been in 
liberal amount. In Alabama and Arkansas it was found that nitrogenous 
manures increased the yield the second season without additional fertiliza- 
tion, but had lost their effect by the third season. In Alabama the phos- 
phatic fertilizers increased the yield for three seasons without further 
applications, and in Eastern North Carolina there seems to have been so 
much accumulation of phosphoric acid that acid phosphate no longer has 
any effect when applied as a fertilizer to jnost of the lands that are cultivated 
in cotton. In Alabama the application of pulverized rock phosphate, or what 
is commonly called "floats," in which the chemist finds that the phosphoric 

110 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

acid is all insoluble, increased the yield for two successive seasons, and farmers 
are gradually finding out that this material, when placed in the soil, rapidly 
becomes soluble enough for plants to get the use of it, and since it can be sold 
for half the price of the dissolved rock it will be well for farmers to experi- 
ment with it, and see if the cost of fertilization cannot be further decreased. 
Several Stations report that the effect of kainit, or crude potash salt, is to 
prevent rust in the cotton, aside from the value the potash may have as a 
fertilizer, but it also seems to have the effect of retarding the opening of the 
bolls. In South Carolina it was found that the application of marl alone, or 
in connection with the commercial fertilizers, is of no direct value to the 
cotton crop. But when marl is used as an application to leguminous crope 
in storing up organic matter in the soil for the cotton, it has a very great 
indirect value. In Alabama it was found that air slaked lime mixed in the 
drill with acid phosphate had no apparent effect on cotton; in fact, it would 
seem that it might have an injurious effect in making the phosphate 
less soluble. Nitrate of soda has been profitably applied at two dressings 
between planting time and June 1st. Better results have been had from 
fertilizers worked in shallowly than those buried deeply for cotton. From 
the various experiments of the Stations, the Office of Experiment Stations 
reaches the following general conclusions, in regard to the cultivation and 
fertilization of the cotton crop, taking also into the account the experience 
of successful cotton growers. It is evident that cotton is a plant that 
responds promptly, liberally and profitably to judicious fertilization. The 
practice general in the South we do not regard as judicious, since under it 
the productiveness of the land has gradually been decreased, until the soil 
is not in the best condition to apply lilberal quantities of commercial fertili- 
zers, by reason of the exhaustion of the humus supply in the soil, through 
the continuous planting of cotton aided by scanty supplies of fertilizers. 
But by judicious fertilization with these same commercial fertilizers in con- 
nection with proper farming, the maturity of the crop may be hastened and 
its period of growth shortened so as to materially increase the area northward 
where the cotton crop may be profitably grown. But this judicious use of 
fertilizers involves the antecedent preparation of the soil. A soil deficient 
in humus, or decayed organic matter, is not only in a bad mechanical condi- 
tion, but is in a poor condition to receive liberal applications 
of commercial fertilizers, since it is more subject to drought by 
reason of the absence of the moisture-retaining humus, and hence, 
cannot dissolve the fertilizers. Therefore, the higher "tilth" we 
get our lands into, the heavier application of fertilizers we can 
profitably use. The culture of the cow pea as a renovating crop is essential 

Commercial Fertilizers for Maintenance of Fertility — 111 

in the cotton belt to the restoration of those new ground conditions which 
all planters have noticed are so favorable to the profitable culture of cotton. 
On lands newly cleared from the forest every cotton farmer has noticed that 
the crop is not only more certain without the fertilizers, but that a heavier 
application of fertilizers can be more profitably made than on an old field that 
has so long been in the crop that it has lost the black humus that the new land 
has so plentifully. Therefore, the effort of the farmer should be towards the 
keeping up of these soil conditions where they exist and the restoration of 
them where they have been exhausted, and in no way can this be done so 
economically as through the culture of the "clover of the South," the cow pea. 
Not that the cotton farmer should sacrifice a valuable feed crop as manure 
direct to his land, for the cutting of the hay and the feeding of it to stock 
is far more business-like and profitable than the burying of the whole growth 
at once in the soil. The roots and stubble contain a large amount of the 
manurial value, and by saving the manure carefully the land loses little of 
the tops, while feeding can be made an important part of the farm profits. 
Barnyard and stable manures are more profitable to the cotton planter, as a 
means for the bulking up of his soil with organic matter, and for the forma- 
tion of the important humus, than as manures direct to the crop; for we have 
seen that crude manures may tend to delay the ripening of the crop. Drib- 
bling a little manure or compost of manure in the row is not the best way to 
get a stand of cotton, and is far from being the best way to improve the soil. 
All home-made manures, and all woods-mold collected, should be spread 
broadcast over the whole soil. As we have said, the place for these crude 
manures is on the corn crop following the cotton and preceding the oats or 
wheat, so that by the time the field comes around again in cotton, in a three- 
year rotation, the remaining manure has been reduced to a state of humus 
and aids the commercial fertilizer applied to the cotton crop in doing its 
work. The editor from whose work we glean these conclusions, says that 
cotton may be wisely assigned a place in a judicious rotation, and suggests 
a rotation of small grain, followed by corn with peas, and then cotton; and 
adds that each crop should be properly fertilized. To this rotation we see 
the objection that there arc no peas for mowing and making hay for stock, 
and no mention of making manure. Now, as the feeding of live stock is at 
the very foundation of all rational farm improvement, in the cotton as well 
as the corn field, the rotation that does not provide a forage 
crop other than corn is defective. Then, too, while an application 
of fertilizer to every crop grown may produce an increase of the crop, it is 
not always profitable farming. One of the chief values of a good rotation, 
to my mind, is to enal)le the farmer to increase the productiveness of his 

112 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

soil, while gradually using less of the purchased fertilizer, until he needs to 
buy none but phosphoric acid, and perhaps potash, and these for the pea crop 
alone; for by a proper rotation and the production of a plentiful supply of 
forage crops, that will go to make together a balanced ration for cattle, he 
can supply his soil all the nitrogen needed; and can accumulate fertility 
in the land till his money crop is produced in its highest excellence, without 
any direct application of commercial fertilizer. The investigations of the 
Stations in the study of the manurial requirements of the various crops, have 
had the effect of getting farmers to think that for every crop planted they 
must have a special fertilizer. Good farming with cotton or any other crop 
does not mean merely the production of large crops ; but in the production of 
crops at the lowest possible expense, while increasing the fertility of the soil. 
It is not good farming to teach farmers that they need make an application 
of fertilizer to every crop planted, and we will never get them to see the value 
of a rotation, till we show that a rotation can do what we have said is good 
farming. One of the labor-wasting practices long in vogue among cotton 
farmers in the South, is what is called composting. Having but little 
manure from the few cattle kept, and that of poor quality from the poor and 
scant feed, they go to work to haul a lot of soil from woods and fence rows 
and mix with the manure, and turn and chop it down with the notion that 
they are making the whole good manure. And then this laboriously made 
})ile of dirt, is dribbled in a parsimonious way, in the furrows under the 
cotton ; the only use it has being to enable the plant to use better the fertilizer 
they add to it. It takes our farmers a long time to realize that it is far 
cheaper to grow the organic matter all over the soil, ready spread, than to 
pile and turn it and haul to the field ; and that far more of it can be grown 
there than can be hauled there by any one. The rotation we prefer for a 
three-year rotation with cotton has already been given, and the experience of 
those who have adopted it has abundantly proved its correctness. While in 
the first stages of the building up of a poor piece of cotton land, it may be 
advisable to apply some fertilizer to each crop planted, the farmer who 
strictly follows the three-year rotation we have given, will soon find that all 
the commercial fertilizer he needs to buy will be acid phosphate and potash 
for the peas, and the peas will do all the rest, if they are properly fed to 
stock ; while, at the same time, they are feeding the soil direct. Our Editor 
of the Office of Experiment Stations further says, that, on the great majority 
of the soils of the Cotton States it is advisable to use as a concentrated fertili- 
zer, a complete manure; that is one containing soluble phosphoric acid, 
available phosphoric acid and available nitrogen, rather than a manure 
containing only one or two of these ingredients. This may be true if the 

Commercial Fertilizers for Maintenance of Fertility — 113 

farmer is to continue to grow cotton continuously without rotation, but it 
is not true for the farmer who feeds stock and grows forage to feed them 
with from the cow pea and the corn phint. In fact, what a farmer should 
use will depend on the nature of his soil, for, as we have already seen, there 
is a considerable district in Eastern North Carolina where phosphoric acid 
is not needed in the soil, and there are other districts where potash is needless, 
while in all the cotton belt the nitrogen needed can be had in larger quantity 
and more cheaply in the cow pea than in a commercial fertilizer. 
"\^^lile analysis may show that the cotton plant needs a complete fertilizer, 
this does not show that we need buy all the constituents of such a fertilizer, 
for all our soils and all conditions of culture. The editor well adds, 
afterwards, that the nitrogen may be omitted where it is supplied through 
animal manures, or what he in the language of the press calls green manuring. 
And right here I would repeat what I have often said, that what is called 
in Northern latitudes "green manuring," is not applicable to Southern con- 
ditions. In the cooler climate of the North and the heavy clay of the 
glacial drift, it may be practicable to plow under green crops; in the sandy 
soil and warm climate of the cotton belt, such a practice would be simply 
suicidal to the interests of the cotton farmer, for he would not only sour his 
soil, but he would cut short the work the legumes are doing for him before 
they had fairly completed it. Hence, for the South at least, we should drop 
entirely the misleading phrase "green manuring," since no such practice is 
applicable to Southern conditions. But while green manuring cannot be 
practiced in the South as it is in the North, there is an even greater need for 
the growing of the green manure crops, for the purpose of getting forage and 
making manure, and for getting the nitrogen collecting work of the legumes 
completely done. While soluble phosphates, like acid phosphate, are best 
for their immediate effect on the cotton crop, there seems to be no doubt that 
the insoluble floats may be profitably used after a while in the promotion 
of the growth of the pea crop, and to accumulate there for the use of the 
cotton crop, that should follow the peas. Kainit, muriate of potash and 
sulphate of potash present the potash to the cotton plant as fertilizer in an 
equal manner, and the only difference is in the cost. Kainit, while of special 
value aside from its use as a fertilizer, in that it has a tendency to prevent 
blight, is, in most places, the most costly form, since it has but 12 per cent, 
of potash, and its use involves the freighting of a large amount of useless 
material ; while the muriate has 50 per cent, of potash and a smaller quantity 
need be freighted to get what potash we want. As a nitrogenous manure for 
cotton, the cotton farmer can usually get all that he needs by exchanging 
his cotton seed at the oil mill for meal and hulls, and while he may use, if 

114 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

he chooses, a little nitrate of soda as a starter for the cotton, the organic 
nitrogen will usually be the best form for the sustenance of the crop during 
the season. Therefore, it is more than ever apparent that the organic nitro- 
gen from the pea roots is the best form of nitrogen we can get. Much work 
has been done by the Stations in the Cotton States in the study of the propor- 
tions in which the various constituents of a complete fertilizer should be 
used. In Georgia they claim that the proportion should be nitrogen 1, 
potash 1, phosphoric acid 314. In South Carolina, nitrogen 1, potash %, 
phosphoric acid 214; while in North Carolina, where in a large part of the 
cotton belt phosphoric acid is not needed, the law requires that a complete 
fertilizer allowed to be sold must not contain less than 8 per cent, of phos- 
phoric acid. This law is about to be changed now, however. Quoting 
further from the Office of Experiment Stations we find it stated that the 
amount of concentrated fertilizer which may be profitably used per acre on 
the cotton crop, varies widely with the nature and condition of the soil, the 
seasons and other circumstances. For an average soil in fairly good con- 
dition, perhaps the maximum amounts indicated in Georgia — nitrogen, 20 
pounds, potash, 20 pounds, phosphoric acid, 70 pounds, or South Carolina 
— nitrogen, 20 pounds, potash, 15 pounds, phosphoric acid, 50 pounds, or 
an approximate mean between the two, would be the maximum limit of the 
profitable application. This would mean the application of over 800 pounds 
per acre of an average cotton fertilizer, an amount which, if applied to the 
worn uplands of the cotton country, would do more harm than good, but 
which can be used only on soils of a moist nature and well supplied with 
humus. While 700 to 800 pounds of a complete fertilizer may be used on 
such lands, the larger part of the old lands of the upland country, in the 
Cotton States, could not safely apply more than half that quantity, until 
through good farming and the accumulation of organic matter in the soil 
they have prepared the land to receive such a liberal dressing. Quoting from 
the same source we find it stated that the concentrated fertilizer should be 
applied in the drill and not broadcast, at a depth of not more than three 
inches, and well mixed with the soil. To the first part of this statement 
we have a serious objection, and there is every reason why the fertilizer 
should be applied not alone in the drill but broadcast. Cotton spreads its 
roots far and wide, and as the feeding roots' hairs are out near the tips of 
the roots they soon get away from the little that is directly under them and 
are foraging in a poor soil, so that at the most critical time of the crop, the 
fruiting time, the plants have less food at their command than at any other 
time. Then, too, if as large an application as 700 to 800 pounds per acre 
of a complete fertilizer is used, the application in the drill alone of that 

Commercial Fertilizers for Maintenance of Fertility — 115 

amoimt would probably be disastrous to the getting of a stand of cotton, for 
it would burn the roots up. Then, further, it is stated that all things con- 
sidered, it is best to make the application all at one time, that where the land 
is in superior condition and a large application is used it is probably profit- 
able to a])ply half at planting and half at the second plowing. Then this 
second half would certainly not be in the drill, but would be just where we 
would have ]jut it in the beginning, in the middles of the rows. 

We have quoted thus largely from a review of the work of the Experi- 
ment Stations in the Cotton States, to show that the experimenters themselves 
have not been able to get away from the old traditions of the cotton field. 
They have done a great deal of work in determining the food requirements of 
the cotton crop, but are as badly in the ruts in regard to the culture of the 
crop as the planters themselves. All the old practice of fertilizing in the 
furrow and making a bed of soil above it, plowing first, second or third times, 
are all relics of the old ruts from which it is time cotton growers were get- 
ting out. Fertilizing in the furrow is not the way to bring up the pro- 
ductiveness of the land for any crop. Deep preparation of the 
soil, planting on the flat surface, and then shallow and perfectly 
flat culture should be the rule. There is no more need for a plow 
in the cotton field after the crop is planted than there is in a corn field, and 
the methods that are best for the one are of equal advantage for the other. 
Cotton was grown here the past season on well prepared land perfectly flat. 
It was cultivated with a smoothing harrow and a weeder till over six inches 
high and then with a small tooth cultivator the rest of the season, and never 
hilled in the slightest degree; and that cotton went through a season of un- 
precedented drought and heat better than any plowed and hilled cotton 
around it. Then, too, the everlasting directions that have been given the 
farmers about the particular amount and kind of fertilizer that should be 
used have confused them to such an extent that they think that all they need 
is a formula for the preparation of a fertilizer. There is much need of ener- 
getic work on the part of the Stations in the Cotton States to show the 
farmers the best methods of improving their soil for the production of the 
cotton crop, and the means through which they may be relieved from the 
necessity of buying a complete fertilizjer for every crop they plant. Good 
farming is needed more in the Cotton States than any more knowledge re- 
garding fertilizers, for those who get to doing good farming will naturally 
use what fertilizers they need in a more liberal manner. Then again, the 
experiments in fertilizers with any crop on the soil of the Experiment Station, 
at one point in a State as large as Georgia or Xorth Carolina, can hardly 
be of much use to a large part of the farmers in those States, who are growing 

116 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

cotton on a different soil, and to give to farmers the proportions in which 
they should mix their fertilizers to make a complete cotton fertilizer is pure 
quackery, and should not be indulged in by men engaged in scientific investi- 
gation. The methods of culture need more improvement than the fertiliza- 
tion of the crop, for these are the same they were a hundred years ago, and 
the everlasting fertilizer investigations at the Stations are only keeping up 
the old practices. The Southern cotton grower needs to be taught more 
about esonomical methods in farming than he does about mere application 
of fertilizers, and he needs to be taught the most economical, and at the same 
time most liberal, way to use these fertilizers, in the building up of his soil 
rather than in the squeezing out of a little more sale crop. 


In farming for cotton in this way, the pea vine hay is an important item. 
There has long been a notion that the vines are hard to cure. We have 
proved year after year that there is no hay more easily cured, and none 
better for any stock kept on the farm, from the pig to the horse. The 
methods in common use heretofore in the South have usually resulted in the 
loss of the leaves, the best part of the hay, and in the production of a mass of 
hard sticks, instead of the hay that can be made. We have time and again 
given our method of managing the hay crop. It is hard to give directions 
that will fit all conditions of the plant, and the weather. Peas that have 
grown rankly on fertile soil will make great, thick stems that are more slow 
to cure, and in such case the sowing should be made thicker so that the 
stems will not get so stout. Ordinarily one bushel of seed per acre is enough, 
but on strong land, where they are apt to grow too rank, the seeding of one 
and a half bushels per acre will make a finer hay. 

When the first pods are turning yellow, but none dry, cut the hay with a 
mower with the track marker off. If the weather is bright and warm, let 
them lie for 24 hours and then rake into windrows. Next day turn the wind- 
rows in the morning and dry them off. If the weather is still hot, the hay 
may get dry enough to haul in that afternoon. The test as to its dryness 
is to take a handful and give it a hard twist. If you can see no sap run 
to the twist it will do to go in the barn, provided there is no external moisture 
on it.- Store in as large a mass as possible, and the tighter the barn the 
better, but it will cure in a rather open ham. While curing in the barn do 
not disturb it on any account, as you will cause it to mold if you let the air 
into it while hot. Let it strictly alone and it will cure all right, will be per- 
fectly green in color and sweet for the stock. Now this is no theory, for we 

Commercial Fertilizers for Maintenance of Fertility — 117 

do it every year without a failure, and yet we have had farmers write that 
their hay molded. I suppose it requires some judgment and experience, 
but I have tried to give the method that has been a success with me, and 
can see no reason why it should not be a success anywhere. If rain falls on 
the hay in the field, spread the windrows and dry off well before housing. 
Rain will do little damage, far less than it would to clover hay, but it will 
darken it and should be avoided if possible. Once catch on to the right way 
and you will have no difficulty in making the finest hay in the world. 
Farming for cotton without the cow pea, the clov-er of the South, will always, 
on our worn uplands, be a losing business. 

resting the land. 

There has long been a practice in the cotton country of "resting" the 
land, by allowing it to grow up in weeds and grass each alternate year. 
Feeling that constant annual cropping in cotton was bad, the farmers came to 
the conclusion that the soil was "tired," and needed a rest. Of course the 
accumulation of organic matter through the idle season added a little to 
the land, and the resting was better than the constant culture without 
systematic rotation. But intelligent farmers all over the South are rapidly 
learning that the best way to rest land is to keep it at work growing some- 
thing of value between the sale crops; something that will h§lp recuperate 
the land better than a crop of weeds, and the wise farmer now keeps all land, 
vacant of crops in Summer, covered with peas. 

another cotton rotation. 

We have given what we consider the best rotation for a large part of the 
coast country of the South. But there is a large section of the upland red 
clay country where cotton is still the money crop, and where wheat flourishes 
well. There the same three year rotation can be made a success by putting 
wheat in the place of winter oats. But where both crops are wanted, the 
rotation can be extended to four years and another crop of pea hay gotten 
in. In this ease the peas after oats will 1)6 followed l)y wheat, and this again 
by peas fertilized with potash and acid phosphate, preparatory to the crop 
of cotton. One of the chief ideas in a rotation is to keep the land covered 
as much as possible by growing crops. Our Southern soils have lost 
fertility as much by lying bare in the winter as by the summer cropping. 
Xever let the land lie all winter without some green cover crop. This will 
not only add humus-making material to the soil, but it has been found that 

118 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

where the land is covered with green plants in winter there is little if any 
loss of nitrogen, but where it lies bare there is a great leaching of nitrates. 
A cover crop is of far more importance in the South than in the North. Here 
we have more rain than hard freezing, and the soluble nitrates are rapidly 
washed out of the bare soil. What we would especially impress on the 
cotton farmer is the fact that thorough preparation of the soil, clean, flat 
culture and a good rotation, are far more important to success than the 
kind and amount of fertilizers he may apply to the crop. I would like to 
help the Southern farmer out of the slavish dependence on fertilizers, merely 
for the purpose of getting a little more out of the soil to sell, and to show 
him that the true place for the plant food in the fertilizer is where it will en- 
courage the crops that feed his stock, and through them feed his farm. Used 
in this way you may use the fertilizers liberally, and in no other way do they 
so well supplement the home-made supply of manure. We hear a good deal 
about making the manure go as far as it will and then supplement it with 
fertilizers, but the true way to supplement the manure is to use the fertilizers 
for the manure-making crop. The phosphoric acid and the potash are then 
retained on the farm and their use enables you to get a far greater supply 
of the costly nitrogen. 

A very intelligent South Carolina gentleman recently wrote to me : "You 
are continually urging our farmers to grow more peas and to cure them for 
cattle, but you overlook the fact that they have not the cattle to feed them to, 
and they have not the fences to enclose the cattle ;"' and he might have added 
that in their single cropping they have gotten so dead poor that they cannot 
buy the stock nor Iniild the fences they need. But even to these men the pea 
will bring help if not utilized as it should lie, for we must never lose sight of 
the fact that the great value of the pea in the South and of clover in the 
North, lies in the accumulation and maintenance of humus in the soil, and 
that the greatest value of humus, aside from its furnishing some nitrogen, 
lies in its making the soil more retentive of moisture, and thus enabling the 
farmer to use commercial fertilizers more profitably. The most successful 
cotton farmers we know are the men who are growing cotton on the level 
black lands of Eastern North Carolina. These men are able to use an 
amount of fertilizer per acre that would be destructive to the cotton farm 
on the dry uplands. Thc}'^ ^Pplj f^oni GOO to 800 pounds per acre of a 
complete fertilizer, and claim that they make it pay. They certainly grow 
fine crops. They are able to use this amount of fertilizer because of the 
superior capacity of their soil, which is well supplied with humus, for the 
retention of moisture for the solution of the fertilizers applied. Hence the 
plants get the use of it in the best manner. The siiigle cropper on the 

Commercial Fertilizers for Maintenance of Fertility — 119 

uplands could not grow the crop the coast farmer does with any such appli- 
cation. The chances are that he would burn his crop instead of benefiting it. 
This is because his soil has lost its humus and lacks the capacity for the 
retention of moisture which the low farm has. Here, then, lies the secret 
of the improvement of the upland farm; the growing of the pea purely 
for the benefit of the soil, even if not fed, as it should be, to stock, for through 
its agency he not only gets added fertility from the air but added capacity 
for using increased applications of fertilizers; for it is a fact that the use of 
fertilizers is more profitable on a fertile farm than on a dead poor one. The 
past hot and dry summer was one of the most remarkable illustrations of the 
truth of this we have ever seen. All over the State on the thin and dry lands 
the crop was remarkably short, and the fertilizers applied were almost entirely 
wasted by reason of the fact that the plants could not get them in the dry soil. 
But here and there were men who have been practicing pea culture for the 
benefit of their land, and have thus increased its moisture retaining character, 
who made a good crop and got the benefit of the fertilizers they applied to the 
crop. It is evident, then, that even where the cotton farmer is not wise 
enough, or is not able to feed stock, the peas are still the best means he can 
employ for the improvement of his crops and the maintenance of the pro- 
ductivity of his soil. 



A study of the manurial requirements of the wheat crop, at more than 
one Station, have shown that potash applied alone to the crop, has, on a 
typical wheat soil, hardly any appreciable effect. At the Virginia Station it 
was found that nitrogen gave some increase of yield, but not enough to pay 
the cost of the application. That potash and nitrogen applied together gave 
no better results than when applied separately. Their combination was in- 
ferior to the results obtained from a separate application of phosphoric acid. 
Phosphoric acid doubled (or more than doubled) the yield of straw and 
grain every year, and gave profitable returns. In combination with either 
potash or nitrogen it was unmistakably effective. It gave better results in 
combination with nitrogen than with potash. These experiments Avere made 
on a fertile limestone-valley soil. The Delaware Station found that th-e 
combination of phosphoric acid and potash was most effective on their soil. 
Many years ago the farmers in the upper counties of Maryland and Delaware, 
on the Peninsula, found that on their soil they got as good returns in the 
wheat crop, from the simple application of acid phosphate, as from the use 
of a complete fertilizer, when they used a short three year rotation. For 
many years, in the finest wheat growing section of Maryland and Delaware, 
hardly any fertilizer except acid phosphate, has been used by the best wheat 
farmers. The Delaware Station has tried to show them that a small addition, 
of potash would be an advantage on their soil. But few have been induced 
to change their practice. An old and intelligent farmer of Queen Anne 
county, Maryland, recently wrote to me that he had used no other fertilizer 
than simple acid phosphate, for twenty or more years, and that with his rota- 


Where Winter Wheat is the Monet Crop — 121 

tion the wheat crop had steadily improved, and he said that now his last crop 
was 40 bushels per acre. 1 have seen, the present Summer, lands in Mary- 
land on which 50 bushels of wheat per acre were grown the present season, 
where no nitrogen has been bought for many years. 

The wheat farmers of Maryland have learned that they can get all the 
nitrogen they need without buying it in the form of a commercial fertilizer. 
And this is a lesson for wheat farmers in all parts of the country where winter 
wheat is growoi. The important thing to the wheat grower is, while getting 
a fair growth of straw to avoid an excessive growth, but at the same time a 
full crop of grain. An excess of nitrogen tends to an excessive straw growth 
and a consequent weakness and liability to lodge. 

While all the studies of the manurial requirements of the wheat crop 
show that the greatest yield is where there is applied a complete fertilizer, 
with a due proportion of phosphoric acid and nitrogen and potash, it by no 
means follows that it is necessary to buy all of these in a fertilizer. We 
should also bear in mind the fact, that on a soil where legumes have not been 
regularly grown in a rotation, some years must elapse before the nitrogen col- 
lecting crop will gather more than is needed by the immediately succeeding 
crop, unless further addition of nitrifying organic matter is, in the mean 
time, added to the soil. Hence a short rotation again comes in as the best 
under most conditions. 


For many years, and long before the use of commercial fertilizers became 
general, the best farmers of the Middle Atlantic States, whose money crop is 
wheat with stock feeding, practiced a rotation in which the land was seeded 
to clover and grass with the wheat, mowed for several years and then 
pastured, and finally the sod plowed for corn, which was followed by oats the 
following Spring and the oats stubble fallowed and prepared for wheat again. 
Keeping a large number of cattle and raising a goodly quantity of manure, 
these farmers managed to keep their lands to a fair state of productiveness, 
with a long rotation, on farms divided up into very small fieMs with a vast 
amount of needless fencing. This practice has since gradually given way to 
a four year rotation, with clover standing but one year, and the land again 
returned to corn. The fault of this rotation is that the important money 
crop, the wheat, comes on the oats stubble, and nearly two years after the 
clover has been plowed under, hence does not get the best use of the clover. 
The Delaware Station proposes to remedy this by introducing there the early 
varieties of the Southern cow pea, after the oats are cut, as a preparatory 

122 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

crop for the wheat. In sections like Delaware, where winter oats can be suc- 
cessfully grown, this plan will probably be a success ; as the winter oats should 
there come off the first of July or earlier, and give plenty of time to make 
a crop of peas, from the varieties, like the Warren Extra Early, which will 
make a matured crop in 60 days from the sowing. The rotation would then 
be, wheat, with a good application of acid phosphate and seeded to clover. 
Clover mown tmce, or once and pastured. Home-made manure hauled out 
on the clover sod during the winter and all plowed under in the spring for 
corn. Oats sown in September and followed by peas cut for hay, and stubble 
prepared for wheat again, with acid phosphate. This will give two 
nitrogenous forage crops every year and largely increase the feeding capacity 
of the farm. 

In other sections, where the oats crop is of less importance, great success 
has attended the use of a three year rotation of corn, wheat and clover, the 
only fertilizer used being acid phosphate on the wheat, and an occasional 
dressing of lime on the soil for corn. It may be argued that the corn stubble 
is not the most favorable place for the wheat, and under former conditions 
it was not. But where the farm is stocked to its full capacity for feeding 
cattle, and a large amount of manure is made and applied broadcast to the 
corn crop, the corn stubble, with the help of acid phosphate, is not an unde- 
sirable place for the wheat crop ; as is evidenced by the regular increase in the 
wheat crop where this rotation has been practiced. As in the three year rota- 
tion with cotton, this can be best carried out with the aid of a permanent 
pasture, and thus save all interior fences on the cultivated land. 

In all the rolling uplands of the Upper South, in North Carolina, South 
Carolina and Georgia, there are elevated lands that the owners have persisted 
in growing cotton upon which are naturally better adapted to wheat. Some 
years ago, when traveling through the upper section of South Carolina on 
the Southern Eailway, a gentleman, evidently a farmer, boarded the train, 
and as I am always interested in talking with the farmers I picked up an 
acquaintance with him and made some inquiries about the country through 
which we were traveling, between Spartanburg and Atlanta. I found that 
my friend was* an intelligent farmer, who had come there from a wheat grow- 
ing section in the North and had been farming for a number of years in this 
Piedmont section. He said that having been a wheat grower all his life, he 
determined to continue to grow wheat and clover, as he could not see why 
they should not thrive in that elevated and beautiful section. He said that 
the first year when he sowed wheat he was laughed at, and told that wheat 
would not make much of a crop there. He made, the first year, only 6 
bushels of wheat per acre, but as his land was in a badly run down condition 

Where Winter Wheat is the Money Crop — 123 

he was not surprised at this and simply kept on following a rotation which ho 
had planned for the improvement of the land. Last season he said that his 
wheat crop, on the same field that once made 6 bushels per acre, was 35 
bushels per acre, and that he was satisfied that wheat could be as successfully 
grown on the Southern uplands as anywhere. But this farmer had been wise 
(>nough to adapt his farming to the conditions of his environment. He had 
found that in the sunny South red clover is a very uncertain crop, and that 
its place could be well taken by the Southern pea. Accordingly he had 
adopted a rotation in which the pea took the place of clover, and enabled 
him to make more crops in a short rotation than he could with clover, which 
remained on the land a whole year. His rotation was corn, with peas planted 
among it and all the manure of the farm applied to it. Corn cut off at the 
ground, cured in shocks and the stover all saved for feed. Land well disced, 
the peas chopped up, and winter oats sown. Next spring the oats are har- 
vested and the land at once prepared for peas, with a dressing of acid phos- 
phate and potash. Peas are mown for hay and the land again disced only, 
and the surface made fine and sown to wheat. After the wheat is harvested 
the land is plowed and peas sown again and another crop of hay made. Rye 
is then sown as a winter cover, and during the winter the manure is gotten 
out, spread on the rye and all turned under in March for the corn crop ; and 
the rotation begins again. At first he found that it was lietter, in the poverty 
stricken state of his soil, to plow under all the meagre growth of peas for the 
wheat and corn, but later on, as the growth became heavier, he found that this 
would not only be a waste of feed, but that the land could not be so well 
|»repared for the wheat crop. He then got to feeding more cattle and utiliz- 
ing the forage he was growing so largely, and found that the feeding was a 
profitable part of his farming ; and that his land was constantly improving 
while the farms around him, which were being worked in the old way, in 
cotton alone, were washing and wasting. There is no reason, however, that a 
similar rotation should not be fully as good for those upland farmers who 
wish to adhere to the cotton crop. In their case the rotation could be made, 
corn with all the home-made manure, followed by wheat, with commercial 
fertilizer without nitrogen, peas after the wheat is cut, and these made into 
hay, and rye sown on the stubble as a winter cover, and plowed under in early 
March for cotton. Commercial fertilizers used on the cotton, and crimson 
clover sown among the cotton in September. Then, during the winter, get 
out all the farm manure on the clover, and in March plow all under for corn 
and begin the rotation over again. In this rotation, the wheat, coming 
directly after the corn, to which the manure and clover was applied, will have 
the best chance, will need no fertilizer except acid phosphate; the cotton fol- 

124 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

lowing the peas and with rye plowed under, will need only acid phosphate 
and potash, with perhaps a small percentage of nitrate of soda, to give it 
an early start. Then, if the peas and corn and corn stover are utilized in the 
feeding of stock, there should, in a few years, be manure enough raised to 
cover the entire corn tend. 

In this connection, though not directly in regard to wheat growing, yet 
in this same line of soil development through the feeding of the abundant 
forage that every Southern farm will produce, I would call attention to the 
results obtained at the Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station, connected 
with the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. The Tennessee Station has 
made a series of experiments in the feeding of cattle, primarily to determine 
whether the native stock of the country could be fed at a profit for beef, and 
in the second place to determine whether a home grown ration could not be 
made to profitably replace feed that they would have to buy. They used, 
in the experiment, two groups of four steers each. The experiment began 
on the first day of January, 1900, and continued uninterruptedly for 98 days. 
The first group were fed all the shredded corn stover they would eat and also 
G pounds of cow pea hay and 3 pounds of corn meal. The second group were 
also fed corn stover ad libitum, and for part of the time had 6 to 16 pounds 
of cotton seed bran and 4 to 7 pounds of cotton seed meal, and then were 
changed to 6 pounds of the cotton seed bran, 3 pounds of cotton seed meal 
and 4 pounds of corn meal. The cotton seed bran is the finely ground cotton 
seed hulls, which is being largely advertised in the South for cattle roughage. 
But the experiment showed that it has little food value, is heavy and indi- 
gestible, and does not answer for roughage as well as the crude hulls them- 
selves ; and these, in our opinion, are little better than pine shavings. These 
rations were gradually increased, until, at the close, the first group received 
10 pounds of cow pea hay and 11 pounds of corn meal, and the second group 
had 7 pounds corn meal and 5 pounds of cotton seed meal. Without enter- 
ing here into the details of the experiment we give the conclusions arrived at : 

1. Tennessee is admirably adapted to the production of stockers, which 
can be successfully fed on the products of the rich valley farms. 3. Stock 
husbandry has valuable effect on soil fertility, as 90 per cent., and over, of the 
fertilizing ingredients in the foods consumed, are available for the restoration 
of soil fertility . 3. Cotton seed bran is too expensive for roughage and has an 
unfavorable effect on digestion, producing impaction of the rumen. Tennessee 
farmers cannot afford to use it in this form, and all the roughage needed in 
cattle feeding can be produced more cheaply on the farm than anywhere else. 
4. Cow pea vine hay made an admirable substitute for cotton seed meal. As 
it is not so rich in protein, however, it should be fed at the rate of two to 

Where Winter Wheat is the Money Crop — 125 

three pounds of the former to one of the latter. 5. It is seen from these tests 
that a home grown ration of shredded stover, cow pea vine hay and corn meal, 
can be fed with success to a fair type of native cattle. This means much to 
the farmers of Tennessee. Tennessee is admirably adapted to the production 
of the cow pea. On good fand two tons of this plant can be produced per 
acre, yielding 431.6 pounds of protein, costing 4.G3 per pound. Besides this 
it stores up in the soil nitrogen which it gathers from the air. In view of 
its value in feeding it should be cultivated much more extensively for this 
purpose. 7. Cotton seed meal gave the better results when combined with 
corn meal, in proportion of one pound of the former to one and a quarter 
pounds of the latter, than when fed alone. 8. This experiment indicates 
that native steers can be successfully fed at home at a fair profit. It further 
indicates that all the corn stover now wasting in the fields should be shredded 
and fed. 9. The tables bring out the importance of individuality in the 
animal, and show the necessity of improving our feeding stocks by crossing 
with pure bred sires. 10. The results of this experiment favor the use of a 
ration of corn stover, cow pea vine hay and corn meal, in preference to one 
of shredded corn stover, cotton seed bran and cotton seed meal. 11. Con- 
formation and uniformity of type are important in cattle feeding, as they 
materially affect the selling price. 12. The average gain in live weight in 
group one was 1.99 and in group two, 1.75 pounds per day. The best 
individual gain was 3.50 pounds, and the poorest, 1.53 pounds. 13. The 
average cost for food for group one was $9.25; for group two, $12.63, a dif- 
ference of $3.38 in favor of home produced rations. 14. The net cost 
of a pound of gain with group one was 2.65 cents; with group two, 4.21 
cents. This was chiefly due to the difference in market prices of the foods 
fed. 15. Group one consumed an average of 7.70 pounds of dry matter; 
group two, 9.32 pounds; group one consumed an average of 5.27 pounds of 
digestible matter and group two, 5.10 pounds of digestible matter for a 
pound of gain. 16. The average amount of water consumed by group one 
per day was 42.90 pounds, and by group two, 43.51 pounds. The highest 
amount consumed by any one individual was 50.36 pounds, and the lowest, 
39.09 pounds. 17. The average live weight of group one was 956 pounds, 
and of group two, 950.3 pounds. The average dressed weight of group one 
was 527.6 pounds, and of group two, 529.5 pounds. The percentage of valu- 
able meat in group one was 55.75, and in group two, 55.52. The highest 
percentage of valuable meat with a single individual was 59.13 and the lowest 
53.56. This is considerably below the standard for good cattle, but a single 
cross would materially improve these results. 18. The average net increase 
by feeding was $8.37 with group one, and $7.71 with group two. 19. The 

126 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

average cost of a pound of gain was 4.82 cents with group one, and 7.12 cents 
with group two. 20. The average net gain, allowing for care at 3 cents a 
day, was $6.15 with group one and $3.62 with group two. The average net 
gain, less care, was $8.98 with group one and $5.!)3 with group two. 

We have given these results here in full for' the purpose of showing that 
in other sections of the South, where the cow pea flourishes far better than 
in the upland country of East Tennessee where these experiments were made, 
farmers can produce an abundance of the finest of cattle food, and can, in 
the feeding of beef cattle, make a larger profit than most of them are now 
making with cotton; and can, at the same time, be growing a crop that will 
improve their soil for the production of cotton and other crops. While we 
appreciate the great value of commercial fertilizers as fully as anyone, we 
cannot too often repeat that the feeding of stock lies at the beginning of all 
rational farm improvement, either in the North or the South ; and the sooner 
the Southern farmer learns the wonderful advantage he has in the cow pea the 
sooner will permanent prosperity dawn upon him. If the feeding of native 
cattle on the foods so easily produced in all parts of the cotton belt can be 
made profitable in Tennessee, it can be made even more profitable in the soils 
of the Atlantic border where the cow pea flourishes far better than in East 
Tennessee. To one who has studied these things through long years of farm 
experience it is amazing to note how slow the farmers are, not only in the 
South, but throughout the wheat growing section of the Middle States, to 
seize upon the means that will enable them to prosper as they have never 
done. The experiments at the Tennessee Station simply corroborate those 
made at the Delaware Station in feeding cow pea hay to milch cows as a 
substitute for the bran the dairymen are continually buying. It was shown 
there with cows, as it was with the beeves at the Tennessee Station, that 
the protein needed in a ration can be more cheaply supplied by the cow pea 
than by purchased food; for it was shown in Delaware that cows that had 
been for a time fed on a ration in which the protein was furnished by the 
bran, did not shrink in milk when taken from that to one in which cow pea 
hay furnished the protein, but that when they were put back from the pea 
vine hay to the bran again, there was a shrinkage in the milk yield. The 
significance of these results to the Avheat grower in the Southern and Middle 
States is plain. It shows that while improving their soil through the grow- 
ing of the pea, they can at the same time produce a food that will take the 
place of costly purchased food, and will enable them to turn out the finished 
products at a far less cost and consequently at a greater profit. The cotton 
grower may imagine that he can do without stock, but the wheat grower who 
does not keep and feed cattle is even more shortsighted than the cotton man. 

Where Winter Wheat is the Money Crop — 127 


It will not do to assume that because in certain sections the farmers 
liave succeeded in greatly increasing their wheat crops through the use of 
phosphatic fertilizers only, that the same practice will insure success on all 
wiieat soils. As a rule, most of our best wheat soils of the winter wheat sec- 
tion of the Atlantic slope, are not deficient in potash to the extent that they 
are in phosphoric acid. It is these two which most concern us, for, no 
matter what the soil, a proper rotation with legumes will give us all the 
nitrogen needed by the crop. But every farmer, no matter what his crop, 
bliould find out for himself what his land especially needs. He must be an 
experimenter if he hojjes to farm successfully and economically. How these 
experiments should be made will form the subject of a special chapter. Lime, 
of course, is useful in wheat farming, but we do not class lime and plaster as 
fertilizers, but as reagents, for bringing about chemical changes in the soil. 
The place for lime in the three year rotation for wheat is on the clover that is 
to go in corn the next season, and the time to put it there is in the early 
spring of the season in which the clover is to be cut. Once in six years is 
often enough to use lime unless the application is very light. But we would 
use phosphoric acid, or phosphoric acid and potash, on the wheat, not 
only for the benefit of the wheat but for insuring a better stand and growth 
of the clover. The practice of using the farm mariure as a top dressing for 
the wheat in winter, may be a good practice in some cold sections as a pre- 
ventive of winter killing ; but, on strong land, it tends too much towards the 
getting of a rank growth of straw at the expense of grain, and increases the 
danger of lodging. The place for all the farm manure is on the sod that is to 
be plowed for corn in the spring. During the summer's cultivation of the corn 
crop it gets mingled with the soil, and much remains untouched below, to 
feed the wheat that follows the corn. In the more northern section of the 
winter wheat belt it is doubtless necessary to put the wheat in earlier than 
corn laud will allow, and there a longer rotation is needed. 


An average good crop of wheat of 30 bushels per acre, will remove from 
the soil in the grain alone — and this is all we need be concerned al)0ut since 
the straw will go back to the land — 28.32 pounds of nitrogen, 10.68 pounds 
of phosphoric acid and 7.32 pounds of potash. It will be seen, then, that 
the relative importance of these food constituents is pretty much as they 
stand. But, so far as the nitrogen is concerned, we will have left over in the 

128 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

organic matter of the clover and manure applied to the corn crop in a three 
year rotation, all the nitrogen the wheat will need; and we need but con- 
sider the needs of the crop as regards the phosphoric acid and potash, and 
to ascertain what the needs of the soil are as regards these. The maturing 
of the seed of the plant draws more heavily on the phosphoric acid in the 
soil than it does on the potash, and hence the relative greater importance of 
the phosphoric acid in the fertilizer. Then, too, we find that in order to get 
best results from an application of potash it is essential that it be accom- 
panied by a due proportion of phosphoric acid, since neither potash nor 
phosphoric acid will have as good effect applied alone as in combination. 
With nearly all the cereal grains it will be found that phosphoric acid is the 
controlling factor in any mixture. But in clover the proportion of potash 
is considerably larger than that of phosphoric acid. Then in devising a fer- 
tilizer for the wheat crop on which we propose to sow clover it will be wise 
to regard the needs of the clover for potash, and supply it; for we may rest 
assured that the soil will hold on to it for the clover, even if the wheat does 
not need it. A crop of two tons of clover hay per acre will require for the 
hay alone 82.82 pounds of nitrogen, 15.2 pounds of phosphoric acid and 88 
pounds of potash. The nitrogen it will get largely from the air, but the 
potash must be in the soil. In this we take no account of what is in the 
roots and stubble, as that goes into the soil, but the amount of potash in the 
hay is seen to be large, and must be supplied to make the best crop. 



A hard lump of phosphatic rock may lie in the soil for generations 
and produce little effect on the vegetation. But let that rock be pulverized 
to an impalpable powder, and scattered through the soil, and the effect will 
soon be apparent. In a similar manner, a hard lump of soil may have in 
it a store of plant food, but the roots of the plants cannot get at it; and the 
lumpy character of such soil renders it liable to dry out rapidly and thus 
prevent the proper solution of the plant food that may be in the soil, either 
naturrlly or applied in the fertilizer. 

While deep plowing is as essential to wheat growing as to that of any 
other crop, the fine, searching roots of the plant require that the soil should 
be in a completely comminuted state, and well settled, so that the plant food 
can be released; and capillary attraction set up in the soil to keep up the 
regular supply of moisture from below. If wheat is sown in a dry soil dur- 

Where Winter Wheat is the Money Crop — 129 

ing dry weather, and the soil particles are but slightly broken up and the 
clods lie loosely, there is every chance, in our dry autumn weather, that the 
wheat will fail to germinate, while if the soil is plowed early, and thoroughly 
fined and settled by repeated harrowings and rollings, the wheat may be 
sown in a very dry time with every chance in its favor. It takes little obser- 
vation, when passing through the country after wheat seeding, to see the 
difference in the stand on well prepared fields and on hastily plowed and 
seeded ones. On a good wheat soil we had rather take the chances for a good 
crop on soil thoroughly prepared and with no fertilizer, than on a hastily 
prepared and late plowed field with the best of fertilization. We cannot 
too often repeat, that the homogenous condition of the soil, made by thor- 
ough preparation, fining and packing, is the great essential to a good crop of 

green manuring for wheat. 

For many years writers in the agricultural papers have recommended 
the plowing under of clover or peas as a preparation for the wheat crop. In 
the heavier glacier clays of the North this may probably be done without 
harm, but in the South, especially on a light soil, such a practice is often 
more productive of damage than good, from the evolution of organic acids in 
the hot soil and warm season. A heavy vegetable growth can be safely 
plowed under in the early spring when the soil is to be stirred for a hoed 
crop, but in the warm season the plowing under of any green mass is apt to 
produce disastrous results. And even where there may not be as much 
danger from the souring of the soil as there certainly is south of the Potomac, 
the burying of a large amount of organic matter in the soil, just before 
wheat seeding, will prevent the proper firming and uniform condition essen- 
tial to success with the wheat crop. One of the worst failures I ever saw 
was from the burying of a great growth of cow peas in September. The 
mass was so heavy that it could not be well buried, and the soil did not get 
the preparation it needed. The wheat grew off well, and there was a fine 
stand of grass, which was the thing mainly wanted. In the spring the 
growth of wheat was enormous from the rapid nitrification of the organic 
matter in the soil, but as soon as headed it all fell flat, and the result was 
a very poor crop of wheat and the grass was smothered out, so that the whole 
thing had to be done over. This was in Maryland up near the Pennsylvania 
line. Here in the South such a plowing under would probably have resulted 
in such a souring that nothing would have grown at all till the land was 
heavilv limed to restore its sweetness. 

130 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

I once addressed a Farmers' Institute in North Carolina, and was trying 
to show the farmers the advantage of growing the cow pea. I soon found 
that my audience hardly agreed with me. But when I showed them the 
danger of plowing under the peas green, I saw that I was getting more atten- 
tion. When I closed, a farmer rose in the audience and said: "We thought 
that you were going to advise the plowing under of the peas. Some years 
ago Prof. — came down here and urged us to grow peas as a green manure 
crop. Some of us tried it and soured our land so that for a year or two it 
would hardly produce anything, and since that we have been afraid of peas." 
From that day's talk, however, the farmers of that section realized the true 
value of the cow pea, and now they are grown on every vacant spot during 
the summer. One of the leading farmers in the upper Piedmont section of 
North Carolina, in a good wheat growing section, assiired me that he had had 
disastrous results from the plowing under of a heavy growth of rag weed on 
a wheat stubble, in preparing the land for wheat again. The instances are 
so numerous in the South of the evil results of plowing under green vegeta- 
tion in hot weather, there cannot be any doubt of the danger of such a 

But even where the plowing under may not result as badly as it does in 
the South, the plowing under of a great mass of vegetation is a bad prepara- 
tion for the wheat crop, as it prevents the proper firming of the soil so essen- 
tial to the success of the crop. But the main reason why green manuring, as it 
is called, is a bad practice, is that it is wasteful, and not in accordance with 
true business principles. The great reason for the growing of a crop oi 
clover or peas is the acquisition of the nitrogen of the air and the storing 
of it in the soil. Now if the clover or peas are plowed under at midsummer, 
they have not done anywhere near what they would do for us in the way of 
getting nitrogen, for this is mainly done during the later period of growth 
approaching the maturity of the plant. If the crop is allowed to fully 
mature, there will be about as much left in the roots as the whole crop con- 
tained at an earlier period of its growth. Then, too, the feeding value of 
the pea crop is fully $20 per acre, and it must be an extra valuable crop that 
will warrant the use of food of that value as a manure direct, especially when 
by feeding it and carefully saving the manure, we can recover a large part of 
the manurial value in the droppings of the animals. Hence, we insist that 
green manuring, either North or South, does not mean the burying of the 
legumes as a whole ; but the fertilization of the crop as food for cattle and 
the careful saving of the manure. Grow legumes as a matter of course, and 
allow them to do all the nitrogen gathering they are capable of doing, but do 
not cut short the work they are doing because of the theories of men who have 

Where Winter Wheat is the Money Crop — 131 

only a theoretical idea of the subject. Legume growing is the most im- 
portant thing in connection with the improvement of the soil, but the term 
"green manuring" is misleading to the inexperienced, and is one which should 
never be used. 

wheat after a hoed crop. 

Farmers in many sections have gotten a prejudice against "corn ground 
wheat," because of the old common practice of plowing in the wheat on the 
corn land. Where the land has been properly plowed and prepared for the 
corn or tobacco crop, and has been rapidly and well cultivated in a shallow 
manner, it has, by the time wheat should be sowai, gotten into a fine condi- 
tion for the best success with wheat; and if the corn is taken ofE the ground 
and the wheat drilled directly on the well cultivated soil, the crop is apt to 
be a good one. Putting in wheat after a hoed crop has the advantage that 
the legume crop and the home-made manure can be used for the corn crop, 
and will, by seeding time, have gotten well mixed and assimilated to the soil, 
and there will not be an excess of the nitrifying organic matter, but plenty 
for the wheat, and only phosphatic and potassic fertilizers will be needed. 
A three year rotation, in which the wheat comes after a hoed crop, will, in 
the long run, be the best for the improvement of the soil and the development 
of the wheat crop. 

A summer fallow may at once give a better crop of wheat, but it will be 
made at the expense of the best interests of the soil; far better have for a 
while a smaller wheat crop and be building up the soil. Pasturing a crop of 
clover till the bare ground shows all over the field, and then at midsummer 
turning the soil up to the sun and preparing it for wheat, may give you a 
wheat crop, but the land will be losing humus and running together hard, 
the corn crop will be dwindling, and, finally, the wheat crop will be grown 
mainly by the ajiplication of a complete and costly fertilizer. Far better 
stick to the short rotation, have a permanent pasture and never graze the 
cultivated fields. We saw the evil results the present summer in the fine 
wheat lands of Talbot Co., Maryland, of the practice of close grazing. They 
get fine wheat crops, but the land runs together and needs humus badly for 
the best results with the other crops. In travelling over the northern sec- 
tion of Indiana late in the fall a few years ago, I was struck with the vivid 
green of the strip between the railroad fences and the bare and brown fields on 
either side of the track. The farmers were evidently running too long a 
rotation and robbing their soil of humus by close grazing. A short rotation 
would give far more forage for cattle and would save the great waste of 

132 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

fertility that is going on there. Ere long those lands will reach the point 
where wheat will grow only by liberal fertilization, the necessity for which 
could be avoided by a timely method of systematic farming. The old notion 
that stock and dairy farming require a long rotation, and the keeping of the 
land in grass till the grass runs out, hence, dividing up the farm into a 
multitude of small fields to be pastured in their turn, is fast giving way to 
a more rational system in which the great American forage crop, Indian 
corn, plays an important part ; and the silo becomes the means for increasing 
the manure deposit, and the fertility of the soil. Feeding the whole corn 
crop, stalks and all, in the most complete manner, and using the legume crop 
to balance it, enables the dairy farmer to become a wheat grower as well, 
and to greatly increase the productive capacity of his soil for his money crops 
of grain and the dairy. Growing wheat in a three year rotation, with 
legumes and Indian corn, gives the dairyman two strings to his bow while 
increasing the strength of both. 


Most of the so-called permanent pastures are rather poor excuses for 
pasturage. In many cases the land selected, and properly so, is a piece too 
steep or rocky for cultivation, and it is expected to produce food for cattle 
year after year, with no help whatever but the droppings. Big weeds are 
allowed to sap its fertility and run out the grass, and no return is made to 
the land for the food taken away. The idea of giving fertilizers to the 
pasture does not seem to be thought of ; and yet there is no part of the farm 
that will so well repay feeding. In some sections, where grazing on the hill 
lands has become a feature of the agriculture of lands practically worthless 
otherwise, it has been found that an annual top dressing of commercial 
fertilizers has brought up the hill land to a capacity for feeding stock for- 
merly undreamed of. 

To keep up the productivity of a pasture it must, in the first place, be 
kept clean of anything but grass. Clipping of the weeds and regular scat- 
tering of the droppings will do much towards the keeping of the grass good. 
But we must remember that in the milk and in the bones of growing animals 
there is going on a constant waste of the phosphates, and these must be 
replaced. Then, too, nitrogen is needed for the best success with grass, and 
as we are here making no rotation with legumes for gathering it, we must 
add some in our fertilizer. For the permanent pasture we have never found 
anything so good as finely ground raw bone meal. This has about 4 per cent. 
of nitrogen, and the most of the remainder is a bone phosphate of lime in 
which the phosphoric acid becomes available by degrees, and is better adapted 
to the keeping up of a uniform herbage than a more readily available form. 
Once in six or eight years a moderate dressing of lime will be a great help, 
especially if the grass is mainly that known as Kentucky Blue grass, which, 


134 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

being a limestone loving grass, is greatly improved on other soils by an 
occasional dressing of lime. 1 have seen steep hills which have been pas- 
tured annually for a generation and thus top dressed, which to-day feed more 
cattle than they did 40 years ago, though they have not been plowed in all 
that time. 


• While not directly connected with the subject of fertilization, there is 
so much interest in various parts of the country in the matter of permanent 
grass pastures, a few words in regard to the best grasses will not be amiss. 
All along the Atlantic border, from Maryland southward, the Bermuda grass, 
or Cynodon Dactylou, has established itself; and has, in many places near 
the northern limit of its growth, become a source of much annoyance to the 
grower of wheat and other small grain, through its persistent and rapid 
growth often choking out the sown grain. The farmers of this section know 
this under the name of wire grass, and in Northern Maryland it meets and 
mingles with the Northern quack (or couch) grass, and both go under the 
common name of "wire grass." In that section, and in the upper country 
of the South, Bermuda grass is only a nuisance. But coming South 
along the coast plain, on the sandy lands devoted to cotton culture, it attains 
an increased importance and becomes the most valuable of all grasses for 
permanent pasture. It is true that it is a hot weather grass only and makes 
no show in winter; but if mixed with Texas blue grass {Poa Arachnifera), 
which is purely a winter growing grass, there is nothing to be desired so far 
as a permanent pasture is concerned, and the two together will make, on 
the most sandy lands of the cotton belt, a sod equal to that of the Blue grass 
of Kentucky. 

But in all the upper red clay lands of the South we do not advise the 
use of the Bermuda, for in these lands the orchard grass and mountain 
blue grass (Poa Compressa) will be found better adapted; and the white 
clover, and in shaded places, Kentucky blue grass, will come in naturally 
if the fertility of the soil is maintained hy an annual dressing of bone meal. 
In the sandy soils of the coast region the Bermuda and Texas blue grass have 
no rivals, and here the fertilizer should be varied, and a good percentage of 
potash added to the dressing. The Bermuda, left alone, makes the densest 
of sod, since its running stems spread in every direction, burying each other 
by growth above till the steins below die and decay and gradually accumu- 
late a mass of decayed organic matter, and the sod gets 'Hiide bound." 
To restore it, put in a strong team and plow the sod so as to merely turn it 

Fertilizers for the Permanent Pasture — 135 

over about four or five inches deep, and harrow and roll. Then apply a coat 
of freshly water slaked lime at rate of 20 bushels per acre. Do this in the 
spring about corn planting time, and you will at once have a fresh and 
strong growth as the soil warms up, and when well under way apply the bone 
and potash dressing at rate of 200 pounds of bone to 50 pounds of muriate 
of potash. Plowed and renewed in this way once in eight or ten years, there 
is nothing that can surpass the Bermuda and Texas blue grass, on the lands 
to which they are suited and in the climate where they belong. 

In the upland red clay soils of the Piedmont section of the South, the 
best grasses we have ever tried for a permanent pasture are orchard grass, 
red top, Kentucky blue grass and white clover. Of the three grasses we 
would sow 10 pounds each per acre, and then scatter about 4 pounds per acre 
of the white clover. The orchard grass and red top will at once make their 
appearance, and while the red top will not be a permanent grass on the 
uplands, it will furnish the first green and will help to protect the coming 
of the blue grass among the tussocks of the orchard grass, and if the land is 
dressed and limed as heretofore advised, the blue grass will finally become 
the main sod of the field. In the southern part of the upland region of the 
South I would leave out the Kentucky blue grass and substitute the moun- 
tain blue grass {Poa Compressa). This grass is almost as persistent as the 
Bermuda, and forms a dense sod, and should never be allowed to encroach 
on the cultivated fields, since on heavy and moist land it is as hard to get rid 
of as the Bermuda. But it is far better adapted to Southern conditions 
than the Poa Pratense, or Kentucky blue grass. 

It seems probable from experiments that have been made that the 
Smooth Brome grass {Bromus Inermis) will be a valuable pasture grass on 
the lighter lands of the South, and it is well worth experimenting with till 
its true value is determined. 

From the mountains of Virginia, all over the Southern uplands, there 
are now thousands of acres of worn and wasted land, washed into gullies 
and in some places irredeemable, which could be put to use as pasture if 
properly treated. These lands now, where there are no deep gulleys, are 
generally covered by the broomsedge that nature puts on every wasted spot in 
the South. The broomsedge itself is not a bad pasture in the early spring- 
but it soon gets tough and worthless; and if these hills are to be utilized 
as pasture we must get something better than broomsedge on them. An 
experiment I made years ago in the mountains of Virginia showed that this 
can be done easily. I had a rough and rocky mountain side that bad never 
been plowed, and that was really too rocky to attempt to plow. But it was 
ne^r the barn and would make a convenient place to turn the cows at night 

136 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

rather than drive them back to a distant pasture or keep them in the yards 
all night, which last was not to be thought of. About that time I noticed 
that all along the railroad coming from the South, the Lespedeza, or Japan 
clover, was creeping in. It had not reached us, but I found that it had 
reached the top of the gap through which we passed the Ragged Mountains 
to the Southern Railway. Seeing it growing on waste places by the hard 
roadside and among the rocks, I concluded that a plant that could thus spread 
itself was a good thing for my waste land. I sent to Louisiana, where there 
were parties saving the seed, and bought some. This was sown in the early 
spring, all among the broomsedge on the rocky hillside. Only this and 
nothing more. The land was fenced and the cows went there at night only 
after being pastured, and fed in the stable at milking time. By the next 
winter there was no more broomsedge on that hillside. The Japan clover 
had complete possession and I had a pasture for the summer worth far more. 
And not only this, but with the droppings of the cows which were scattered 
over the land, and the cows really ate very little there during the night, the 
white clover made its appearance, and the mountain blue grass (Poa Com- 
pressa) came in, and by the next year I had a pasture without broomsedge 
and composed of far better plants. Not being too closely pastured the herb- 
age increased and today that hillside is as good a permanent pasture as one 
will find anywhere in a similar situation. It could have been improved by 
an annual topdressing of raw bone, and I know of no dressing for the perma- 
nent pasture that so completely fills the bill as raw bone meal. The slow- 
ness with which its phosphoric acid becomes available is an advantage in such 
a situation, and the nitrogen to be found in a good sample will encourage 
at once the growth of the herbage. On one occasion, on a visit to the Mis- 
sissippi Agricultural College, I was shown a field distant from the barn, 
where there were fifty fat beeves. The land was the thin, worn-out, red-clay 
hill land to be seen all over the South, and there was absolutely no growth 
on it except the Japan clover an inch or two high. The cattle were in fine 
order, and I was told that they were not fed anything besides the Japan 
clover they were grazing upon. Evidently here was the plant to cover the 
waste lands of the South. Not a plant that can be profitably taken into a 
rotation on cultivated land, but a plant to make a pasture where none was 
before, and which would reproduce itself year after year and grow better 
while doing it. While not to be advised on lands that can be plowed and 
prepared for grasses it is evident that for lands where nothing else can grow, 
the Japan clover will prove a valuable pasture plant. If the hills are then 
pastured with sheep there will gradually be an incoming of better herbage, 
till these washed and gullied hills become clothed with grass and flocks. 



There are many who will hold up their hands with horror at the idea of 
selling hay off the farm. Of course there are few who are so located that 
they can make hay the most profitable money crop, but where a man is so 
located that he can make more money in selling hay than in feeding it on the 
farm, there is no good reason why he should not sell hay as well as any other 
crop he grows. A crop of timothy removes in each ton 25.2 pounds of nitro- 
gen, 10.6 pounds of phosphoric acid and 18 pounds of potash. A crop of 
wheat of 20 bushels per acre will remove 28.32 pounds of nitrogen, 10.68 
pounds of phosphoric acid and 7.32 pounds of potash, in the grain alone; 
which is the only part usually sold from the farm. The manurial constitu- 
ents of a ton of timothy can be replaced in the form of commercial fertilizer 
for a little over $5. Then if the farmer cannot realize more from the feed- 
ing of the hay than the market value of hay on the farm, he had better 
sell the hay and buy the fertilizers, especially as we have shown that in a 
proper system of rotation he will not need to buy the nitrogen, which is more 
than half the manurial value of the timothy. But, says one, the manure is 
a profit, even if the feeding does not return more than the market value of 
the hay on the farm. It is true that a careful saving of the manure may 
recover a large part of the manurial value of the hay, but when the labor 
of caring for the stock is taken into the account, and the great labor of hand- 
ling the manure over that required for the commercial fertilizers, it will be 
seen that this apparent profit is really made at a loss. Of course, as we have 
said before, we consider that the feeding of stock and the making and saving 
of the manure lies at the very foundation of successful farming in most 
places; still, we believe in farming for profit, and we could never see the 
reason for a farmer making a sort of fetich of a manure pile, and spending 
more feed and labor on its accumulation than the accumulation is worth. 
We believe in applying common business-like sense to all the operations of 
the farm, and in localities where it pays better to sell the timothy than to 
feed it, I would by all means sell the hay, and depend on fertilizers and 
legumes to keep up the fertility of the soil. 


138 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 


But farming for hay does not mean running the land in meadow till 
it will hardly produce any hay worthy the name. A moderately short rota- 
tion is as good for the hay crop as for any other, and the growing of a legume 
crop is just as important as in a rotation for grain or cotton. Whatever 
the crop, the rotation should be planned so as to give that crop the best oppor- 
tunity in the rotation. Hence, in a rotation for grass, the grass should come 
in when the soil is best supplied with the nitrogen accumulated by the legume 
crop. In the Upper South, this legume crop should be the cow pea, and the 
best crop to seed down to clover and grass will be the winter oats crop, follow- 
ing corn among which the peas have been sown. 

The corn will have had all the manure accumulation possible on the 
farm, and the oats will get some benefit from this and more from the peas, 
and hence will need a good dressing of acid phosphate and potash as much 
for the clover and grass as for the oats. Seed to clover and grass with the 
oats in the fall, mow the oats stubble after the rag weeds start in the sum- 
mer, and the following spring give the clover and grass a dressing of freshly 
water-slaked lime at rate of 20 bushels per acre. Mow two seasons, and 
the second season in the early spring give a top dressing of nitrate of soda 
and acid phosphate, 50 pounds of the first and 200 of the last per acre. In 
the South, orchard grass and tall meadow oat grass should take the place of 
timothy, which does not thrive well here. After the first cutting of hay the 
second year plow the sod and sow in peas again. Cut these peas for hay to 
feed on the farm, and during the winter get all the manure out on the stubble 
for the corn crop the following year. Wheat may, of course, take the place 
of the winter oats where more profitable. This is only adapted to the upper 
country of the South and not to the cotton belt, where hay making from 
grass can hardly be made a profitable part of the farm rotation, and where 
the legumes will be of more value on the arable lands than meadow grasses. 

But in the North, and near the large cities, where hay from timothy 
grass is always in demand at fair prices, and where the farmer will haul 
his own hay to market, he can always haul home the manurial value of the hay 
either in the city manure, or fertilizers, at a considerable profit in the trans- 
action. There, a four or five year rotation, with corn, wheat, clover and tim- 
othy will usually be the best. Of course he will keep some stock, but he will 
make the best use of the commercial fertilizers in the production of his hay. 
Even with the best of management it will be found at times that it will pay 
the hay farmer to buy some nitrogen, in the form of nitrate of soda, for a 
spring dressing, and it will usually be found that the most profitable use he 

Fertilizers Where Hay is the Money Crop — 139 

can make of his manure accumulation will be on the sod that is to go into corn 
the following year, after mowing the spring crop. This will give a good 
second crop and will prepare the sod better for the corn. Getting a good 
price for hay, it will pay him to be liberal with the top dressings of com- 
mercial fertilizers, and, for a rank growth of grass, nitrogen in the imme- 
diately available form of nitrate of soda will usually be found the cheapest 
and best. Farming for hay, does not differ from farming for grain in the 
need of keeping up the productivity of the land through fertilizers and a 
good rotation, and under the conditions we have named, hay farming may 
be the most profitable method of farming that one can adopt; while under 
the conditions prevailing in mo'st parts of the country, and on cheap lands, 
the rule to feed all coarse forage on the farm is a good one. We have simply 
endeavored to show that one may be so situated that hay will be the best 
money crop he can grow. 

Then, too, there are places where the straw on the farm commands a 
better price at the paper mills than hay sells for in most places. The straw 
has little manurial or feeding value, being mainly useful as an absorbent 
of the manure. Then, where a man can sell wheat straw for $6 per ton, as 
is done in some places, he can do better to sell it than to feed it, provided he 
returns the value in plant food to the soil. In that case the soil will be 
the gainer, as the wheat straw has no such fertilizing value. 

One of the greatest advantages the market gardeners on the South 
Atlantic coast have is the ease with which they can grow a large crop of hay 
the same season in which they cultivate the land in vegetables. Crab grass, 
which is classed as a pest in the North and elsewhere, develops here a value 
that is unsuspected elsewhere. On the moist and fertile lands where the 
early truck is produced for the Northern markets, if the land is simply 
put in good order after the early truck crops are removed, there comes in a 
wonderful volunteer crop of crab grass, which attains a height and luxuri- 
ance unknown elsewhere and often cuts two tons per acre of excellent hay. 
It is curious to notice, too, that not only the size of the crop is increased on 
these fertile lands, but the quality of the feed is also improved. Crab grass 
hay from a poor piece of land is hardly worth the saving. A friend in South 
Carolina once told me that he cut some crab grass from a thin piece of land, 
thinking that it should be saved, and a little later he cut a heavy crop from 
a truck patch and put it into the same barn. His horse thrived well on this, 
but later on he suddenly found his horse was falling off, though fed as usual, 
and he found that they had gotten down on the poor land hay and that it 
would hardly support life. But the true hay crop for the market gardens, 
as it is elsewhere in the South, is the cow pea. Sown after the truck crops 

140 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

are off it makes a wonderful growth on the rich soil, and has with it a great 
mixture of the crab grass that will not down, and the two together are more 
easily cured than the peas alone. If there is a man anywhere who can afford 
to sell hay, it is the Southern farmer with cow pea hay; for, in selling it, 
he leaves behind in the soil an accumulation of nitrogen for the succeeding 
crop, and where it commands the price it did last summer in South Carolina, 
of $18 per ton, it may pay better to sell than to feed, provided the money 
from the sale of the pea vine hay is returned to the soil in the form of com- 
mercial fertilizers, to enable it to grow a larger crop of hay. And the ad- 
vantage in the growing of cow pea hay for sale is that only the mineral forms 
of fertilizers are needed for it, and, not like ^rass, demanding large supplies 
of nitrogen. Hence it is possible in the South, in particular localities where 
hay commands these high prices, for a farmer to profitably grow a hay crop 
while improving his land in doing it, and thus get fertilizers for all his crops 
without cost. I say this is possible in some localities, but as a rule the South 
needs live stock worse than anything else, and only a few farmers will be 
situated near a market that will take their hay. Right here there could be a 
good profit made in this way, since, in the city of Raleigh, the people who 
keep cows are reduced to the necessity of buying either Northern timothy hay 
at $30 per ton, or to feed on cotton seed hulls at $5 per ton, and these are 
perhaps a little better than the pine shavings, but not much; and for the 
milch cows the timothy hay is but little better and much more costly. It 
would be an easy matter here to grow two tons per acre of cow pea hay, and 
then an easy matter to sell it at at least $15 per ton, and if the $30 per acre 
were invested in good fertilizers for the farm, the sale crops could be greatly 
increased, by the fact that only the cheaper forms need be bought, as the sale 
crop of hay would leave the nitrogen as a profit. Where a man, then, is 
growing cotton near such a market for hay, and will not keep the stock he 
should, this opens a way for the improvement of his soil in an effective and 
economical way. The danger in all this selling of hay, however, lies in the 
temptation to keep, for other purposes, the money received and to let the land 
suffer. But a ton of cow pea hay would remove from the land only about 
two dollars' worth of phosphoric acid and potash, and a sale of thirty dollars' 
worth of hay, if invested in fertilizers, would return to the farm far more 
than was taken from it, to take no account of what remains in the roots left 
in the soil. While the selling of hay as a general practice is not the best 
thing most farmers can do, it is, nevertheless, true that farming is business 
and not a sentiment; and the farmer should grow and sell that which pays 
him best, taking the future of the soil into consideration. 



The traveler from the North, passing through the upper country of Vir- 
ginia and North Carolina, and seeing everywhere the old, worn fields growing 
up in pines, is apt to jump to the conclusion that tobacco is responsible for 
all this waste of fertility. Indirectly, of course, it is, but there is no more 
reason why tobacco should result in soil exhaustion from its growing than 
any other crop. But jSTorthern farmers coming South rarely want to engage 
in the culture of either tobacco or cotton, as they charge the poverty of the 
Southern soils to these crops, and overlook the fact that bad farming and not 
the particular crop, is responsible for the waste lands and the old fields. 
Tobacco, more than than any other crop grown, is affected by the soil and 
climate in which it is grown, and tobacco growers in all parts of the country 
have learned what sorts of tobacco are best adapted to their soils and cli- 
mates. These differences in the varieties of tobacco grown have been the 
result of long experience and study, by cultivators, of the capacities of the 
various soils, and no one can afford to ignore the results, or to try to grow a 
variety on a certain soil that has not been found suited to it. The growers 
of the Zimmer Spanish, in Ohio, are too wise to try to grow the gold leaf 
tobacco which the North Carolina farmers use, and the North Carolina farm- 
ers are too wise to waste time on the White Burley of Kentucky or the black 
tobacco of the Virginia Peidmont country. The growers of Connecticut 
seed leaf would only lose money by endeavoring to grow plug manufacturing 
tobacco. In some sections of the tobacco growing parts of the country the 
growers insist that a systematic course of improvement of the soil would be 
disastrous to the quality of the tobacco they grow. This is largely the case 
in the bright, cigarette tobacco section of North Carolina, and the growers 
generally adhere to the. practice of growing tobacco solely by the use of a 


142 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

moderate amount of fertilizers, insisting that a heavier fertilization made 
the tobacco coarser and later. Some years since a grower in one of the 
tobacco counties in North Carolina, wrote to me asking for a formula for a 
tobacco fertilizer, as he knew that I had been conducting a series of very ex- 
tensive experiments in the fertilization of this crop. I gave him the follow- 
ing formula, and advised him to use 700 pounds of the mixture per acre. 
.•\dd phosphate, 900 pounds; dried blood, GOO pounds; nitrate of soda, 100 
pounds, and high grade sulphate of potash, 400 pounds. He took my advice, 
and when his crop was marketed sent me the report of the commission mer- 
chant who sold it, showing that his tobacco brought the highest average price 
of the season. Soon after this a man from the same county wrote to me for 
a formula, and I gave him the same. He wrote me that 700 pounds was an 
amount entirely too large and could not possibly make fine tobacco. I sent 
him the report of the man from his own county who wrote me that his suc- 
cess was so marked that he intended to increase the quantity of fertilizer. 

There is a widespread impression among the growers of l)right tobacco 
that the use of peas or clover on their lands is detrimental to the quality of 
the tobacco. I believe this to be an error, and l)elieve that the development 
of the fertility of any soil will enable the grower to grow a larger crop of the 
same tobacco for which his soil has been found suited. In one of the eastern 
counties of North Carolina, some years ago at a Farmers' Institute, I advo- 
cated the use of the cow pea as a preparatory crop for tobacco. The growers 
objected, and said that they had always understood that peas would spoil 
the quality of the leaf. Two years after that I was again in the same county 
holding an Institute, and stopped over night at the residence of the largest 
tobacco grower in the country. To my surprise I found that he not only had 
every vacant spot on the plantation covered with peas, but was planting a hill 
of peas between every hill of tobacco as soon as the priming off began ; tobacco 
there being cured by pulling the leaves as they ripen and not cutting the 
whole plant, so that by the time the crop was gathered he had a luxuriant 
field of peas to enrich the land. The land then in peas was to be planted in 
tobacco the next year, while corn took most of the tobacco land with its 
growth of peas, to be followed l)y winter oats, and these by peas again for 
tobacco. The appearance of his 150 acres of tobacco fully warranted the 
success of the practice. In the upper Piedmont country of Virginia, the 
farmers have been very successful in the growing of a black wrapper 
tobacco, by practicing a rotation on the land where they grew tobacco, 
different from that part of the farm where they grew most of their corn and 
other grain. On their tobacco land they practice a three year rotation of 
clover, tobacco and wheat, and use no fertilizer whatever ; depending entirely 

Where Tobacco is the Money Crop — 143 

on the clover for the tobacco crop, no clover being cut and no pasturing done 
on it. They have found that on their deep, red-clay soil this rotation has 
been a great success. One grower wrote that his wheat crop averaged 28 
bushels per acre and his tobacco cleared him $145 per acre. How long such 
a rotation can be successfully run it is hard to say. Their soil in that section 
is very rich in potash, in the form of a silicate, which is gradually made 
available by the carbonic acid of the rainfall and the humus which they so 
lavishly grow in the clover; and as the tobacco crop makes a light draft on 
the phosphoric acid of the sod and the clover furnishes large amounts of nitro- 
gen, it may be a long time before they will need a change. But the wheat 
straw is being used to help the manure pile which is used on other parts of 
the farm, and the land will probably ere long show an acidity that will make 
it "clover sick." I have advised one of these growers that I am satisfied that 
his rotation can be improved by cutting the clover for hay, using a good dress- 
inng of acid phosphate on the wheat, and then using the manure (made from 
feeding the clover hay) on the sod before turning it for tobacco. A heavy ap- 
plication of acid phosphate to the tobacco crop direct, might have a bad effect 
on making the leaf "bony" or thick-veined, but applied to the wheat and 
clover it would not have any bad effect on the tobacco. In Lower Virginia, 
where the heavy shipping tobacco is mainly grown, a similar rotation would 
be good. But there it would be advisable to use both acid phosphate and 
potash liberally on their lands, and in some sections to substitute peas for 
clover in the rotation. I would not make a separate rotation for the tobacco 
lands, from that practiced on the rest of the farm, but would put corn and 
tobacco in parts of the same field; alternating their position in each round 
of the rotation. Thus, corn and tobacco the first year, the corn to have the 
manurial accumulation of the farm, and the tobacco liberally supplied with 
the fertilizer mixed by the formula already given. Corn and tobacco both to 
be followed by winter oats or wheat, with 300 pounds per acre of acid phos- 
phate, and on the portion following corn to have 50 pounds per acre of muri- 
lite of potash added. The wheat or oats on the part where tobacco was 
heavily fertilized will need a much lighter dressing of the acid phosphate. 
Sow crimson clover on the stubble after harvest, and the following spring 
plow it under and seed to peas to be cut for hay. During the winter get out 
all the manure on the part intended for corn, where tobacco grew before, and 
repeat the rotation; in each round putting corn where tobacco grew in the 
last round and tobacco where the corn grew. Treated in this way, and a 
complete fertilizer used liberally on the tobacco, the peas and corn fed to 
stock to make manure, the productive capacity of the soil will rapidly in- 
crease; and the wheat crop can soon be grown without additional fertilizer 

144 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

if manure enough is raised to cover the corn tend. While the demands of 
the ("obacco crop for nitrogen and potash can only be fully met by the use of 
a complete fertilizer, we should endeavor to lessen the amount needed, by the 
growing of legumes and the accumulation of humus in the soil. But, at 
the same time, any parsimony in the use of fertilizers when needed will result 
in loss to the tobacco grower, since only by the most liberal feeding can the 
maximum crops in quality and quantity be produced. Hence the tobacco crop, 
instead of being an impoverishment to the farm, can be made, by the sys- 
tematic rotation of crops and the liberal application of fertilizers, the means 
for its rapid improvement. 

forms of fertilizers for tobacco. 

While heavy fertilization is needed for the tobacco crop, there is no crop 
more sensitive to the shape in which the plant food is presented to it. Nitro- 
gen and potash are its chief needs. But it is not merely potash that is 
needed, for it is essential that it be free from chlorides; hence only the high 
grade sulphate should be used. The muriate will make a heavier crop, but 
a crop of inferior value, and, in fact, a crop worthless for manufacturing 
where it is to be burned in pipe, cigarette or cigar. A year or so ago I gave 
the tobacco formula, already printed, to a farmer in the bright tobacco belt 
of North Carolina. He wrote afterwards that his crop was of very poor 
quality, and he wanted to know what was the matter with the fertilizer. He 
bought the materials from a large firm of fertilizer makers in Norfolk, and 
he sent me their bill. Where I had designated high grade sulphate of potash 
they had put in low grade, or kainit. In the bill was charged "sulphate of 
potash," and then, in small letters in bracket, "kainit." It was evidently 
done for the purpose of disgusting the farmer with home mixed fertilizers, 
for any manufacturer knows that kainit should never be used in a tobacco 
fertilizer. The cause of the poor quality of his tobacco was plain. 

Then, too, the form in which the nitrogen is presented is of some im- 
portance. We have found that a moderate amount of nitrate of soda, as a 
starter, and a good supply of organic nitrogen in the form of dried blood, 
have given better results than cotton seed meal or fish scrap. Fish scrap is 
apt to contain some chlorides, and is objectionable. Tankage might do if 
it was pure meat tankage and not largely mixed with bone ; but the character 
of the tankage is too uncertain for reliance. Any excess of phosphoric acid 
tends to render the tobacco "bony," as it is called, or thick veined, with a 
thin, papery leaf, lacking body. The formula we have given is the result 
of long study and experimentation with various mixtures, and we believe it 

Where Tobacco is the Money Crop — 145 

can hardly be improved upon. The full amount of 700 pounds per acre will 
probably not be needed where a systematic rotation is practiced, and do not 
let any story of the injurious effects of clover or peas deter you from their 
use as preparatory crops to tobacco. The story of their injurious effects has 
been handed down, and accepted as a fact, by those too ready to get an excuse 
for bad farming. Some peanut growers have the same prejudice against 
the legumes, probably because someone sometime had a poor crop after a crop 
of peas, and at once the word went out that peas are destructive to peanuts; 
and the tale has been believed by men too lazy to investigate for themselves. 
Many more of the old wives' tales in farming have grown up in the same way. 



While, like tobacco, the chief food needs of the Indian corn plant are 
nitrogen and potash, and a complete fertilizer will always produce a great 
increase in the crop, we have never yet made an experiment in which the in- 
creased crop paid for the outlay in fertilizer at the usual price for corn. In- 
asmuch as the larger part of the cost of the complete fertilizer is in the nitro- 
gen, it may be practicable to profitably use a commercial fertilizer on the 
corn crop if the nitrogen needed is supplied from legumes or manure made 
at home, and only acid phosphate and potash are used in the mixture applied. 
Indian corn is one of the essentials in any rotation in American agriculture, 
from the Great Lakes to the Gulf. It is the chief of all feed crops grown 
in this country, and lies at the very foundation of all of our national success 
in the production of beef and pork. We hear a great deal of wise talk about 
the "great corn belt," and some seem to suppose that success with the corn 
crop is confined to the area included in the black prairie lands of Illinois, 
Missouri, Iowa and Kansas, and nothing is more common than to hear poor 
farmers excuse themselves by saying that it is no longer possible, in the East, 
to compete with the Western farmer, in the production of corn or wheat. 
The fact is that good farmers all along the Middle and South Atlantic coast 
are growing as good corn and wheat crops as the Western farmers, and at a 
better profit, because of their nearness to the great markets. In the 
wheat growing section of Eastern Maryland a good farm rotation has brought 
up the production of wheat from 10 or 12 bushels per acre, to 35, 40 and 
even 50 bushels per acre. At the same time the great wheat farms of the 
Dakotas have decreased in productiveness, for the reason that one-crop farm- 
ing will fail anywhere. The Dakota wheat growers are as straight on the 
road to "old fields" as ever were the tobacco and cotton growers of the South. 
The exuberant fertility of their soil may delay the final failure, but it will 
surely come unless better methods are used. Then, too, with the Indian 
corn crop. Recently, in Illinois, premiums were awarded to 
corn crops of 55 bushels per acre, while in poor old Virginia, North Carolina 
and South Carolina good farmers are growing from 80 to 163 bushels of corn 
per acre. The greatest corn crop ever grown, not, however, an evidence of 


Fertilizers for the Corn Crop — 147 

good fanning, but of extravagant expenditure for the result, was the crop 
of 254 bushels per acre grown in Marlboro Co., S. C. Near the ocean, in 
Southeast Virginia and Northeast North Carolina, there are wide areas of 
reclaimed swamp lands, on which the owners have for generations been grow- 
ing corn only. Just as some have been doing on the black soils of a similar 
nature in Illinois ; both have been selling only corn, and sending off the fer- 
tility of their lands. But most of the farmers of the Illinois black lands 
have discovered the profit to be made in turning their corn into beef and 
pork, while the Southern coast farmers, with land just as productive and 
right at the ports from which the Western cattle go to Europe, still stick to 
selling corn, though they could compete at a great advantage with the cattle 
feeders of the West. 

But the greater part of the farmers in the country east of the Mississippi 
River, are farming under conditions which make it essential that some syste- 
matic method be used for keeping up and increasing the productiveness of 
their lands, in corn as well as in other crops. 


Since in the case of far the greater number of farmers in the East the 
corn crop is not produced as a sale crop of grain, but as a means for feeding 
stock, and through this to raise manure for their crops, while making a 
greater profit from the stock fed than they could possibly get from the sale 
of the grain, the question of the best method of utilizing the corn crop on the 
farm becomes a matter of prime importance. The great labor of gathering 
the grain and saving the stover as dry food has led to many experiments for 
economizing the labor and putting the crop into better shape for feeding. 


No method for the utilization of the entire corn crop as food for stock 
has ever been devised that has equalled the cutting of the matured crop, while 
still succulent, and storing it in air-tight receptacles known as silos. A work 
devoted to the feeding of plants would not be complete without some con- 
sideration of this great method of making the corn crop one of the greatest 
of fertilizing crops grown on the farm, and removing it from being an ex- 
haustive crop merely, to one of the greatest of crops for the building up and 
increasing the productiveness of the farm, through enabling the farmer to 
feed more stock than was possible under the old plan. Having had a wide 
experience in the making of silage, from the first experimejital stages to the 
present more perfect method, the writer feels qualified to speak with some 

148 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

certainty of the results to be attained through the practice of ensiloing the 
corn crop. There has been a great evolution going on, not only in the pro- 
duction of the corn crop 'for the silo, but to a greater extent in the silo itself. 
In our first experiments, we sowed the corn so thickly that few ears were 
made, and the immature product was, with the greatest haste, cut into great 
underground pits, walled with cement, and constructed at a great expense. 
It was tramped and packed and made as tight as possible in the silo, and 
when the pit was full, a cover of a foot of cut straw or chaff was placed over 
the top, and then a board cover fitted over the whole and tons upon tons of 
rock piled on to further compact the mass. The result was a slow fermenta- 
tion and a very acid product from the immature corn stored. Doubting men 
called it "saur kraut," and properly, too. It was found that the sour mass 
was greedily eaten by the cows, but the ill smelling stuff gave the dairy product 
a bad name with some of the establishments buying the milk, from which 
some of them have not yet recovered. A process, however, that has in it the 
germs of good, cannot go backward. Nothwithstanding the fact that some 
of the best thinkers prophesied that ensilage would soon be a forgotten fad 
the evolutionary process went on. We soon came to the conclusion that a bet- 
ter crop must first be grown, as the foundation of the silage, and chemical 
analysis showed that the stage in which corn had the largest feeding value was 
when the ears were fully grown, and that to make a really good silage we must 
have a well grown cro]) of corn. We began to plant more thinly and to give 
the corn the same attention we would to make a crop of grain. 

Then began the study of methods and silos. We found that on taking 
off the load of rocks and ])oard cover, there was a black, stinking mass of rot- 
ten straw. We got to thinking about the reason for this decay, and soon ar- 
rived at the conclusion that the shutting down of the moisture arising from 
the heating mass, and confining it right at the surface, was a bad thing. We 
cut our first crop of well matured corn for the silo in the Summer of 1886. 
The crop was a very heavy one, and we cut it in more slowly than we had 
ever done, often letting it lie for 24 hours or more to settle while filling. 
When our silos were full we determined to make one more big change, and 
though we knew everyone else was still piling rocks on board covers, we boldly 
left off all but the cover of cut straw. The result was our first "sweet ensilage." 
Of course there was some acidity, but, as compared with the old product, it 
smelled like a good article of New Orleans syrup. Since then we have never 
put boards or rocks on a silo. 

Xext began the study of the silo itself. We found that in an under- 
ground pit with cemented walls, there was alwa}^ a great condensation of 
moisture on the walls, and this damaged the ensilage along the sides. We 

Fertilizers for the Corn Crop — 149 

found, too, that corn cut in rather slowly and allowed to settle without much 
packing, heated more rapidly and cured better than that packed tightly; as 
the evolution of carbonic acid gas drove the air out better than any other 
method we could use. But the damage along the walls bothered us. Then, 
too, it was hard to persuade the farmers around that they could make ensilage 
profitably, for they looked at the pits we were using, which cost thousands 
of dollars, and they came to the conclusion that silage was not for the average 
farmer, since the silo cost so much money. About this time we visited 
the silos built by a wealthy cattle man in Southwest Virginia, which were 
simply made with posts set in the ground and sheathed horizontally on the 
inside, and then vertically, with dressed and matched stuff, and the gable ends 
of the roof left entirely open. We found that these silos were keeping thous- 
ands of tons of silage in better condition than ours, and at a tenth of the 
cost per ton. 

It was evident, then, that the wooden silo above ground, with air-tight 
sides and bottom and free ventilation above, had solved the whole question of 
successfully ensiloing corn. 

The first improvement made in these was to cut off the corners, making 
them somewhat octagon in shape, as it was found that the corners were the 
places where it was most difficult to exclude the air. This led gradually to 
the round silo, and finally to the simple stave silo made like a railroad water 
tank, but with perpendicular sides, and with windows one above the other 
for the easy unloading of the building. 

Prof. J. H. Grisdalc, of the Dominion Experimental Farm, Canada, gives 
(he following table of dimensions and silage content for stave silos. As 35 
pounds per day is a fair average feed, it will be easy from this table to esti- 
mate the size needed for the farm stock kept. 

Depth m feet. 

Inside diameter in feet. 







































































































































150 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 


We frequently see statements in the agricultural papers, from men who 
are evidently new hands at ensilage making, that it is totally needless to cut 
the corn, and that corn packed in the silo uncut keeps as well as the cut. We 
have seen this uncut silage, and do not want any of it. It is false economy, 
even if the product was as good, since to feed it economically the food must 
be cut, and it is a far harder job to cut the fermented mass than to cut it 
while fresh and green. One brilliant genius published a statement that he 
had found it needless to use a cutting machine, as he found that if the stalks 
were chopped in six-inch pieces with a hatchet they kept just as well. What 
sort of a mind the man must have who would put a hatchet in competition 
with a power cutter we cannot understand. Cut the corn into the silo in 
inch pieces, and merely keep a hand in the silo to keep it level and to prevent 
all the grain from running to the edges. Cut when the corn is fully in the 
roasting ear stage. The harvesting is best done with the binder, which cuts 
and binds the stalks in a shape easily handled. Be in no particular hurry 
about the filling, but allow it to settle a while at times. If it rains no matter, 
it will do just as well cut when wet as at any other time. If the corn is over 
ripe, it is well to spray it with water as the silo is being filled. In fact, if the 
ailo is air-tight at sides and ])ottom, and has free ventilation at the top for the 
steam to pass off, it is far easier to keep the ensilage than it is to spoil it. 


The storing of the cut corn in the silo does not add any value to it as a 
food that it did not already possess, but it puts it into a shape in which we can 
get the full feeding value better than in any other way, and in a shape where 
it is succulent and palatable to the stock. On one occasion, when I was en- 
gaged in cutting a fine growth of corn into a silo, a neighbor expressed the 
opinion that I was wasting a fine crop of corn, as he thought it would make 
at least 50 bushels per acre. I showed him that corn was rarely worth over 
50 cents per bushel there, and that generally I could buy corn in the Fall 
for 40 cents per bushel. But putting my crop at 50 cents per bushel, there 
would be $25 worth of corn per acre, and the cutting of the crop and husking 
it out would cost more than the cutting and putting in the silo. There 
would be a great waste of fodder in the field curing, and the stover would 
not be as valuable dry cured as ensiloed, as a large part of the feeding value 
would be lost. The corn made me 20 tons of silage per acre, which carefully 

Fertilizers for the Corn Crop — 151 

conducted feeding experiments had shown me was worth $3.00 per ton to my 
cows. No one would estimate that the feeding value of the dried stover 
would bring up the $35 worth of grain to the $60 value of the silage. Then, 
aside from the actual feeding value of the dry matter in the silage, its succu- 
lence and palatability added a value which made it equal to green pasturage 
for the cattle, and which the dry fodder would have entirely lacked. 


One of the great advantages of feeding properly cut and cured ensilage, 
with clover hay and cow peas to balance it, is the great value of the manurial 
deposit made, and the fact that it is in a mechanical condition that will 
allow of its being taken out and spread at once where wanted. One of the 
greatest mistakes made by otherwise good farmers, is the worship of a dung 
pile, and wasting of labor in turning and returning and piling manure, either 
under cover or outside. Manure kept in the barnyard, covered or uncovered, 
is all the time losing value. But some will say "It will lose if hauled out and 
spread on the surface." The fact is that it does lose very little when thus 
spread. It dries out moisture, of course, but does not lose a tithe of what 
it would lose in a pile, or spread thickly in the barnyard. The rains will 
wash the soluble part into the soil and the soil will hold it, and under the 
surface cover the nitrification of organic matter will go on rapidly. An ex- 
periment was published some years ago by the New Hampshire Station, which 
showed that on one plat manure was hauled out in the Fall and spread on the 
surface. On another plat the manure was spread at the same time and 
plowed under at once. On a third plat the manure was spread the following 
spring and plowed under. All the plats were then prepared and planted 
to corn. The result was that the plat on which the manure laid on the 
surface all winter gave the heaviest crop. 

In the South, on our warm soil and in our sunny climate, the nearer we 
can keep the manure to the surface the better. I have made numerous experi- 
ments in this regard, and have always found the best results from having the 
manure at the surface, where it will act as a mulch, rather than have it below 
in a light soil. The difference is not so marked in a hoed crop as in the case 
where the manure is used on fall sown grain. There it not only acts as a 
manure but as a protective mulch in winter. 

The silo favors the getting out of manure rapidly, before it loses much of 
its value, and it returns a larger part of the crop to the soil in good shape, 
than any other method of using the corn crop. 

152 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

shredding tile fodder from corn crop. 

Our chief objection to this is the extra expense of handling the crop. 
Then, too, there is no advantage for feeding in the dried and cured corn 
that the ensilaged corn does not possess, and there is the temptation to sell 
the grain instead of feeding it. Wherever we can add value to a crop by 
further handling and feeding it is always more profitable than selling the raw 
product. For many generations the South sold raw products only and other 
people manufactured their staple. The result was, as it always is, that a 
people selling only raw products never get permanently rich. Adding labor 
to a product rapidly increases its value. 

Some years ago I visited a section of Nebraska for the purpose of study- 
ing the sugar beet industry. I talked there with an old German farmer, who 
was evidently a thrifty man. I asked him what was the usual price there 
for corn, as corn seemed to be their main reliance aside from little patches of 
beets. He told me that it was then worth 25 cents per bushel. I expressed 
the opinion that there could be little money in corn at that price, and he 
quickly replied, "I sell no corn, but my neighbors do. I feed all mine to the 
pigs, and they carry themselves to the depot, and I get 50 cents per bushel 
for my corn." I told him that he was right, but that he might do even better, 
for I noticed that at all the grocery stores in the town near him they had no 
bacon except that from Chicago, some of it possibly made from his hogs and 
sent back there for sale; while I had no doubt that well cured home-made 
hams and bacon, properly smoked, would meet a ready sale at better prices 
than the Chicago meat, as was certainly the case where I lived. It evidently 
struck the German, and I have no doubt that he experimented in that line. 

But to return to the shredding of the corn stover. I feel that it is a 
matter about which I have little business to write, as I never shredded any 
in my life. But from what I have seen I feel confident that there is in the 
practice no improvement on ensilage, and a great deal more labor involved 
in the storing and feeding, and more danger of loss in the shredded fodder 
than in the silage. 

But, nevertheless, if T did not use the silo, I would certainly shred the 
fodder, as the next best way to get the full feeding value of the corn stover. 
What we are after is to feed in the most economical way, and get the best ' 
returns for the corn crop. On the fertile prairies of the West men may per- 
haps profitably sell corn as a raw product, but I am persuaded that in all 
the eastern section it is not the best use to make of the corn crop, and that 
we can not only get a larger price for the corn in the shape of animal pro- 
ducts, but can thereby render the corn crop one of the greatest aids in restor- 

Fertilizers for the Corn Crop — 153 

jng the fertility of our lands, and in saving the need for so lavish a purchase 
of commercial fertilizers. For, while acknowledging the great value 
of commercial fertilizers, when intelligently used, our farmers, particularly 
in the South, need to be taught true farm economy, and a less wasteful and 
thoughtless way of using them. 

Mr. J. E. Wing, of Ohio, during some Institute work in Maryland in 
which we were both recently engaged, told me that he has been perfectly suc- 
cessful in stacking shredded fodder in the open air. This being the case, the 
matter of keeping shredded fodder becomes much more simplified, and there 
need be no excuse that the farmer has not barn room in which to store it. 


Farmers generally imagine that they can have a chemical analysis of 
their soil made, and thus find out what are its needs. Chemists have long 
ago found out that a soil analysis will be of little use in determining the 
needs of the soil for plant food. A soil may be entirely unproductive, and 
yet chemical analysis may show that it has in it all the elements of fertility; 
but they may be in such an insoluble form that plants cannot get them. 
Many have, therefore, paid more attention to the chemical composition of the 
different crops, and from these data have tried to compound fertilizers that 
are especially adapted to each crop grown. While this is an advance over the 
soil analysis it is not really what the farmer needs to know in regard to his 
particular soil. A certain crop may require plant food in a complete fer- 
tilizer in certain proportions, and yet the farmer buying such a fertilizer may 
be spending money needlessly if his soil is already sufficiently stocked with 
any one of these constituents. 

Hence the only way to determine what the land needs is to experiment 
on the land itself. Plants in their growth on the soil will tell you what the 
chemist cannot tell. It will tell you what particular form of plant food it is 
deficient in and which you have no need for buying. Farmers generally buy 
fertilizers according to their commercial valuation, and while that may be 
their true value on the market, the value of the article on their land may 
be a very different thing, and they may be spending money for what they do 
not need and be buying too little of what they especially need. The farmer 
can find this out for himself, and no one else can tell him beforehand. The 
needs of soils vary so greatly, even on the same farm, that true farm economy 
indicates that the farmer must be himself an experimenter in order to dis- 
cover what no Experiment Station can discover for him. But any of the 
Experiment Stations in the various States will readily help the individual 
farmers in their States in conducting these experiments. We would impress 


Testing the Needs of the Soil — 155 

the fact that if the experiments are to be of value, and are to show what you 
want, they must be conducted with the greatest care and accuracy. There 
must be no guesswork in the measurement of the plats, no guesswork in the 
weighing of the fertilizers, in the application and complete mixing with the 
soil, or in the harvesting and weighing of the crop. Guesswork is the bane 
of much of our American agriculture, and if the farmer is to learn anything 
from his experiments he must start out with the determination to leave no 
room for error which it is possible for him to avoid. It is better to make the 
experiments with some spring planted crop, since some of the articles used, 
such as nitrate of soda, may not have its full effect if applied to a fall sown 
crop. Select a level piece of land which is fairly representative of your farm, 
and preferably select that which is as nearly as possible the natural condition 
of the soil and not altered by previous heavy manurings. Lay off accurately 
a series of plats 204 feet long by 10 feet 8 inches wide. Make ten of these 
plats and leave an alley four feet wide between each, to prevent the fertilizer 
from one plat affecting its neighboring plat. It is also important that the 
whole series be level for the same reason. 

Plats of this size will contain as nearly as practicable, one-twentieth of 
an acre each. Place firm, stout stakes at the corners of the plats. On the 
first plat simply prepare the soil thoroughly and apply no fertilizer at all, as 
this is one of the plats to be used as a comparison. The fertilizer plats are 
to be numbered as follows: 

Plat No. 1. No fertilizer applied, but same preparation as the rest. 

Apply nitrate of soda 8 pounds (160 pounds per acre.) 

Apply 16 pounds of acid phosphate (320 pounds per acre.) 

Apply muriate of potash 8 pounds ( 1 60 pounds per acre. ) 

Apply no fertilizer at all. 

Apply nitrate of soda 8 pounds and acid phosphate 16 

Apply nitrate of soda 8 pounds and muriate of potash 

Apply muriate of potash 8 pounds and acid phosphate 16 

Apply nitrate of soda 8 pounds, acid phosphate 16 pounds 
and muriate of potash 8 pounds, making a complete fertilizer. 

Plat No. 10. Apply no fertilizer. 

The series may be indefinitely extended, and the amounts of each con- 
stituent doubled or trebled alternately, but the above series will usually suffice. 
I repeat, that it is necessary to use the utmost care if results of value are to 
be expected. Get the fertilizers evenly distributed over the whole plat, but 

Plat No. 


Plat No. 


Plat No. 


Plat No. 


Plat No. 



Plat No. 


16 pounds. 

Plat No. 



Plat No. 


156 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

take care that none of any of them gets outside the limits of the plat. Thor- 
ough mixing with the soil is also essential, so that the amount for each plant 
may be uniform over the whole plat. The normal applications here given are 
liberal amounts, and they should be liberal in order to get the true results. 
In harvesting the crops from the plats there will be need for great care, so 
that the whole crop and no more is taken from each; and the suljsequent 
handling and separating and weighing should have the most minute care. 
Study the results carefully and do not come to any. hasty or wrong con- 
clusions. It will take a series of seasons to give the final result, for the 
peculiarities of the season must be taken into the account. In using such large 
applications of potash it is very important that it should be well mixed in 
the soil, and that it does not come in contact with the seed in its caustic state, 
as it may seriously hamper the experiment to have the germination of the 
seed interfered with and a lack of uniformity in the number of plants on 
each. Each spring the whole series of plats may be plowed as one and then 
again laid off by the stakes that should be kept in place. The master's hand 
must be in this work, for it cannot be left to the ordinary farm hand if you 
are to reap any benefit from it. It is not essential that the plats be exactly 
the length and width stated, provided they contain 2178 square feet, as nearly 
as possible, as this is the content of the twentieth of an acre. But where 
practicable, long and narrow plats make a series more easily prepared than 
would square plats. The amounts suggested are from the circular sent out 
by. the Department of Agriculture, and they are one pound (or the multiple 
of a pound) per square rod. Prof. Voorhees suggests that the plats be 
divided into square rods and the amounts applied to each, but we think that 
in plats of this size the fertilizers can well be applied broadcast with suffi- 
cient accuracy if proper care is taken. If, after proper study of these plats 
for a series of years, it becomes apparent that any one of the constituents 
does not give results of value it may well be inferred that the soil is not 
needing more of that, and the farmer should save his money by Iniying what 
he needs and not buying what he does not need. He may find that for a 
certain crop a complete fertilizer with nitrogen, phosphoric acid and potash 
gives the best results. But he need not at once jump to the conclusion that 
he must buy a complete fertilizer for that crop. He may find, for instance, 
that the complete fertilizer gives the best result on the corn crop. But in 
his regular farm rotation he may put that crop on a sod which has received 
the home-made manure, and its needs for nitrogen will be thus well supplied. 
But having found that his soil needs both phosphoric acid and potash, he 
will be wise to use these. But he may find, as many have found, that potash 
in his soil has little or no effect, and then for the corn crop he need buy only 

Testing the Needs of the Soil — 157 

the acid phosphate. And there are soils still plentifully supplied with phos- 
phoric acid which are deficient in potash and nitrogen, so that by providing 
nitrogen through legumes he need buy only potash. On the coast of North 
Carolina, intelligent farmers assert that phosphoric acid gives no good 
results on their cotton crop, while nitrogen and potash are very important. 
On the other hand, in the upper districts of the South, in Georgia and 
Northern Texas, potash is found of little importance, while phosphoric acid 
is the governing factor in all fertilizer mixtures. On the lower Mississippi, 
the river has evidently brought down plenty of potash, and the sugar planters 
do not need it. On the other hand, in New England generally potash is a 
leading deficiency. It will usually be found that in the upland red clay 
soils, along the eastern side of the Blue Ridge mountains, potash is little 
needed, while, as a rule, on the sandy soils of the Atlantic seaboard, potash 
is the most important constituent of a fertilizer. Prof. Voorhees states that 
in New Jersey, on good loamy soils, potash and phosphoric acid are of far 
more importance in the fertilizers for the corn crop than nitrogen; while 
on the sandy soils, nitrogen and potash are relatively of more importance 
than phosphoric acid. This agrees with experiments on similar sandy soils 
in Eastern North Carolina. 

On land devoid of humus and in a low state of productiveness, it is 
safe to say that in the start of the improvement, a complete fertilizer con- 
taining a due percentage of each of the three important elements, is the 
thing to apply; while, as we accumulate humus and nitrogen through the 
use of leguminous crops, we can by degrees get rid of the necessity for the 
purchase of nitrogen, and it may be found that one of the other constituents 
is present in abundance and that the want of productiveness was not due to 
the lack of it. 



There are few soils that are really worn out. Long, bad tillage and 
cropping have made them unproductive, and have depleted the stores of 
plant food within reach of plant roots, while right below there is a fertile 
soil untouched by the shallow plowing of the past. Of course, there are 
deep and leachy sands which never had much fertility to lose, and which 
become barren when their little store of humus on the surface is exhausted; 
and then become the hardest of soils to render productive and keep them so. 
In all parts of the country there are lands once fertile and productive, which 
have become unproductive through long years of bad plowing and incessant 
cropping, which could be completely restored through their own resources, 
if these were properly used. On level lying clay soils the first step in their 
improvement must be drainage. It is utterly useless to expend money on 
such soils for plant food until the air is permitted to penetrate the soil and 
oxidize the plant food already there. Some method of under drainage, with 
tile or boards or rocks or logs, must be the first step in the improvement of 
low lying clay soils. Then get some organic matter there, not only for 
the increase of fertility and the furnishing of nitrogen, but for the mechan- 
ical mellowing of the soil. In a section where red clover thrives there is 
nothing better, and in the Middle States and the South, the cow pea will be 
the best means. If the soil is so reduced in fertility that clover will not make 
a crop on it, there is a necessity at once for the use of mineral elements, 
phosphoric acid and potash, to enable the clover to grow. We often hear 
farmers say that their land is too poor to grow clover. Then it is too poor 
to grow anything ! If you wanted to get it to grow a crop of wheat you 
would at once think of putting some fertilizer on it to help it. Then why 
not put the fertilizer on for the crop that is to improve the land ? Is it not 
a little odd to see farmers, who do not hesitate to buy fertilizers for a crop 
which they are going to at once sell off the land, try to get clover to grow with- 
out any help from the plant food that is necessary to its growth, and which is 
either deficient or unavailable in the soil ? The first step in the restoration 


The Eestoration of Worn Out Land — 159 

of an unproductive soil, after drainage, if it needs it, must be the restoration 
of the conditions that existed in it when it was new and fertile. It had then 
an abundant supply of humus, either from the forest decay or the prairie sod, 
and long culture has exhausted this supply of food-containing and 
moisture-retaining humus. The restoration, then, of this humus, in an 
economical way, is the first thing that demands the attention of the cultivator. 
Given an old field that will not grow peas, let us ask why it will not? If 
the subsoil immediately under the old time plowing is a good clay, and 
the drainage is good, the next thing to do is to plow it and loosen the hard- 
pan with the subsoil plow. Do not plow much deeper than the old plowing 
at first, but try to loosen the hard subsoil as deeply as the team can pull the 
plow. The early autumn is the best time for this. Sow some crop like rye 
for a winter cover and it will be well to give this rye a dressing of a complete 
fertilizer mixture so as to insure a good growth. Turn the rye under as 
early in the spring as the ground can be plowed to advantage, and if you are 
in the Xorth sow oats and Canada peas for a forage crop, and afterwards 
fallow the land for wheat, and give the wheat a liberal dressing of acid 
phosphate and some form of nitrogen in organic matter, such as tankage or 
cotton seed meal, and potash if needed. A good dressing for wheat will be 
300 pounds per acre of a mixture of 1200 pounds acid phosphate, 600 pounds 
tankage and 200 pounds of muriate of potash, if you have found that your 
land needs all of these. The land will now grow clover, and once you get 
a good clover sod there will be no further trouble in getting the humus back. 
If the land is in the South then cow peas should follow the rye, and if the 
land is very deficient in humus it will pay to turn them under when dead 
and have finished their work ; but as the fertility of the land increases it 
will always be better to cut and feed the peas. After the peas are cut (and 
we should have applied to them a liberal dressing of acid phosphate and 
potash) the land can be gotten in order for winter oats, and the oat crop 
followed the next summer with peas, again fertilized, and now cut for hay 
and the stubble disced and sown with crimson clover. Plow this under early 
in the spring for cotton, and the land will be found no longer dead poor, but 
will give a fair crop of cotton. Sow crimson clover or hairy vetch among 
the cotton, and during the winter get all the farm manure out on the land 
and put it in corn the following spring. Sow peas among the corn at last 
working, and then start with the Winter oats again in September. Every 
time the land comes in peas give them as liberal a dressing of the mineral 
fertilizers as you can afford, and you may be certain they will do the rest. 
You will then be putting the plant food where it will tell in the develop- 
ment of the fertility of your soil, and by feeding all the forage you can 

]60 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

produce by well manured peas and manured corn, you can make your cotton 
crop a real money crop, clear of any incumbrance of a fertilizer bill. The 
governing idea in any plan for the improvement of the soil should be the 
liberal feeding of the renovating and humus making crops. Rye is a good 
starter for poor land, but it is on the legumes that dependence must be placed 
for all permanent increase in the humus content and nitrogen in the soil. 

A similar course of improvement can be adopted in a more northern lati- 
tude, where clover will be the renovating crop. If the land is too poor to grow 
clover this defect can be remedied by the use of commercial fertilizers. 
There is hardly an old, worn piece of land in the Middle States that cannot 
be made to grow clover, if an application of a liberal amount of phosphoric 
acid and potash is given it. The land will not grow clover because of a lack 
of plant food in the soil. Supply this want, and remember that in the 
growing of clover in the North the same conditions that govern the improve- 
ment of land in the South with the cow pea will govern. You cannot expect 
something from nothing. If the soil lacks the plant food for the clover it 
cannot get the clover to gather nitrogen for it; but if the soil is supplied 
with what the clover needs, it will go to work and get the nitrogen from the 
air and locate it in the organic matter in the soil, so that subsequent crops 
can get the use of it. A three year rotation of corn, wheat and clover, with 
fertilizers applied to the clover at first and the wheat also, and the manure 
made from the feeding of the clover and corn stover on the land is returned 
to the clover sod for the corn, you will find that in a little while you need 
to buy only acid phosphate and potash, and put these on the clover, with an 
occasional light dressing of lime, and your wheat will be grown well without 
further fertilization ; for when you come to the making of manure enough to 
cover the corn field, the wheat will have the best fertilizing possible. 


We have said a great deal about leguminous plants and their great value 
in restoring and keeping up the fertility of the soil. We wish to make 
perfectly plain what the work of these plants is, and what we can expect 
from their use ; and also to correct some erroneous notions in regard to them. 
The name legume, has been given to the family of plants to which the pea 
belongs, because they bear their fruit in the form of a pod, called by botan- 
ists, a legume. Hence, the name of the botanical order is leguminosae, or 
pod bearers. 

It was noticed for many years that the members of this order of plants 
did, in some way, add fertility to the soil in which they grew, and that 
there was more nitrogen present than the soil possessed before the crop was 
grown. Scientists came to the conclusion that in some way they were able 
to get and use the free nitrogen, so plentiful in the air everywhere. Just 
how they did this was for many years the subject of earnest investigation, 
and is still a matter for scientific inquiry, for although we have learned a 
great deal in regard to the agency through which they are able to get the 
nitrogen, there is yet much to learn in regard to the exact process that goes 
on in the soil during the growth of the leguminous crop. For all the pur- 
poses of the farmer, however, it is sufficient to know that he can, through the 
medium of a crop of peas or clover, get enough of organic nitrogen stored 
in his soil to at least carry the following crop on the land, if not more ; and 
that he can do this while growing the most valuable food crop for his stock. 


Nitrogen is found in all cultivated soils in three forms, of ammonia, 
nitrates and as organic matter containing nitrogen. Very little exists in 
the soil in the form of ammonia, as the process of nitrification rapidly 
changes any ammonia that may be there into nitric acid. Usually the nitrogen 
in the soil, in the form of nitrates of potash, lime or magnesium, is not over 


162 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

5 per cent, of the total amount of nitrogen in the soil. By far the greater 
part of the soil nitrogen exists in the form of humus or organic matter 
containing nitrogenous matter. "This humic matter is a mixture of various 
bodies, the precise nature of which has been very imperfectly ascertained, 
owing to their general insolubility and the absence of well marked chemical 
properties. We will probably all agree that the nitrogenous organic matter 
of soils is a residue left by the incomplete oxidation and decay of the dead 
tissues of previously existing plants and animals, and that it has its primary 
origin in the capacity possessed by plants of assimilating various forms of 
inorganic nitrogen and constructing therefrom nitrogenous organic bodies 
containing nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, with the addition, in 
many cases, of a small quantity of sulphur." (Rothamsted Lectures. 
Warington.) It was found in the experiments at Rothamsted, in England, 
that in a meadow in grass for thirty years there was an increase of nitrogen 
in the surface soil at the rate of 50 pounds per acre per annum. 

A careful account was kept of the manure applied to this meadow during 
the time; the meadow was mown annually and the hay weighed. It was 
manured with city manure from the London stables each alternate year, and 
had small annual dressings of superphosphate, sulphate of potash and 
nitrate of soda. After making a liberal estimate for the nitrogen in the 
manure, it was found that there had been a considerable gain in nitrogen 
over and above the amount applied in the manures. The total gain was not 
less than 32 pounds per annum, as the whole manure was charged to the field, 
and no account taken of the nitrogen lost from the soil or taken by the crop. 

From the growing of the clover there was also found a still greater 
increase of nitrogen in the soil. Unmanured barley following clover, made 
58 bushels per acre, while the part without clover and following 
barley made but little over 37 bushels per acre. In a four 
year fotation in which clover was used once in the four years 
for forty years, the average annual amount of nitrogen removed 
in the crops in excess of that contained in the manure was over 
30 pounds per acre, while the fertility of the land has not diminished. Mr. 
Warington adds: "It must not be supposed that a leguminous crop neces- 
sarily leaves a soil richer in nitrogen than it was before its growth. The 
sensible increase in the soil takes place only when the soil at starting was 
not too rich in nitrogenous organic matter, and when the leguminous 
growth was abundant. * * * The rich kitchen garden ground at Rothamsted 
shows a considerable loss of nitrogen during the continuous growth of red 
clover. But in these cases the fact of the gain of nitrogen can probably be 
established if we regard the large amount of nitrogen removed in the crop, 

How Legumes Help the Fakmer — 163 

and take into consideration the serious losses of nitrogen which are always 
in progress in soil, and especially in a rich soil." 

Some of the nitrogen in the soil comes from the ammonia and nitric 
acid in the air brought to the soil in rain or snow. In localities distant 
from large manufacturing towns this has been shown to be very small. 

Some believe that plants can assimilate through their leaves the gaseous 
ammonia in the air, but this has not as yet been proved to be a fact, though 
the late Dr. Gray thought that they ought to do so, though he admitted 
that he had never proved that they do. Schlosing found, however, that moist 
soil freely exposed to the air, took up nitrogen at the rate of about 38 pounds 
per acre per annum in the surface, mainly in the form of ammonia. But as 
his experiments were conducted in Paris, the amount is entirely too high for 
the open country 


We have of late years learned a great deal in regard to the acquisition 
of nitrogen from the air by leguminous plants. All the scientists now 
admit that the microscopic fungous plants that form the tubercles on the 
toots of leguminous plants, do in some way not as yet understood fully, get 
the free nitrogen of the air and leave it in the soil in the shape of organic 
nitrogenous matter. The leguminous plant, like all other plants, can absorb 
nitrogen from the soil through the action of its root hairs, but it has the 
further advantage over other kinds of plants, that it can get, through the 
agency of the microbes in the tubercles on its roots, a still further and greater 
supply than the soil affords to other plants. The microscopic organisms 
may exist in the soil where there are no plants of clover or other legumes, 
but no experiments have shown that they can fix the free nitrogen of the 
air in the soil until they become attached to the roots of the leguminous 
plant. But, as we have said, there is no need for us, as farmers, to go into 
the investigation of the biological processes by which the plants do get the 
nitrogen of the atmosphere. Their life history has been too briefly studied 
as yet to demonstrate the exact process. Sufficient for the present purpose 
is the fact that the organic nitrogen is thus fixed in the soil and becomes 
available for succeeding crops. 


Having located the free nitrogen of the air, through the action of the 
root tubercles of the leguminous plants, let us consider how this organic 
matter becomes food for the plants, or how any organic matter in soils is 

liS-i — Chop Growing and Ckoi* Feeding 

made to yield up its nitrogen to our crops. This process, by which organic 
matter has been so acted upon as to contribute to the growth of crops, has 
for many years been a subject that has engaged the attention and occupied 
the time of the scientific investigators all over the world. The conditions 
necessary to nitrification, or the formation of nitrates for the use of green 
plants, have been carefully investigated. The result of these investigations 
shows beyond doubt that nitrification in the soil is the work of a living 
organism, and of more than one kind of organism. 

These organisms belong to that low order of vegetation just barely 
within the reach of the power of the modern microscope, and known by the 
general name of bacteria. Plants which have green matter in their tissues 
we have shown to have the power of getting carbon, which is essential to their 
structure, through the power their green matter has of decomposing the car- 
bonic acid of the air and taking therefrom the carbon they need, while at the 
same time restoring oxygen to the air; and it has generally been assumed 
that the low orders of a fungoid character, having no green matter, were 
compelled to get the carbon to form their tissues from the organic matter of 
living or dead green plants. But one of the greatest discoveries in connec- 
tion with the nitrifying organisms is the fact they are not dependent on 
organic mater for their carbon, but can get it from such mineral combinations 
as carbonate of lime ; and this is one of the reasons for the importance of lime 
in promoting nitrification in a clay soil containing organic matter. The nitri- 
fying organism can use organic carbon, but can also use the inorganic com- 
pounds containing carbon for its growth. 


While it is possible for the nitrifying organisms to get carbon from in- 
organic compounds, all investigations have shown that organic food is essen- 
tial to their activity, and the work they are to do. They must also have a 
supply of oxygen. Nitrification will not take place in a soil saturated with 
water, excluding the oxygen of the air; hence the importance of drainage 
in a soil abounding in nitrifiable organic matter. Muck in the swamp does 
not nitrify, though almost entirely composed of organic matter; hence, too, 
the importance of tillage in promoting the aeration of a heavy, clay soil. 
Neither can nitrification, or the formation of nitrates in the soil, take place 
unless there is some base in the soil for the nitric acid to unite with. These 
bases are alkaline in their nature, and the process of nitrification requires a 
feebly alkaline condition in the soil. Not only is nitrification in muck pre- 
vented by the presence of water shutting out the oxygen of the air, but also 

How Legumes Help the Farmer — 1G5 

by the acid condition caused by the humic acids present in the muck, and the 
absence of alkaline bases. The addition of lime to the soil furnishes this 
alkaline base, and nitrification will go on rapidly in the presence of an abund- 
ant supply of carbonate of lime. That is, a supply in proportion to the 
amount of organic matter present; for if in too great amount, the process 
may be checked almost permanently, as has frequently been experienced 
by our farmers who have used shell marl to excess on lands deficient in 
organic matter. 

Another important condition for the rapid formation of nitrates is the 
best temperature. While it has been found that the process will go on at a 
quite low temperature, and, in fact, all winter in sections where the soil 
does not freeze deeply ; it is far more active during the heats of summer, pro- 
vided the temperature is not too high and there is plenty of moisture. It 
is entirely checked at a temperature of 131 degrees Fahrenheit, and in per- 
fectly air-dry soil. 

Strong light, such as direct sunshine, retards nitrification in the soil; 
shading the soil with any sort of cover promotes more rapid accumulation of 
nitrates. Hence the top dressing with manure not only makes a mulch to 
retain moisture in the surface soil, but also, by means of the shading, it pro- 
motes the nitrification of the organic matter in the soil, thougli, at the same 
time, there will be a check to the nitrification of that part of the manure 
fully exposed to the sun. 


Nitrification, or the formation of nitrates in the soil, is the result of the 
power possessed by certain microscopic plants of the great class known by 
the general name of bacteria, to oxidize the ammonia, or organic matter, in 
the soil ; and, through the energy thus produced, to get for their own use the . 
carbon in combination in the soil. The result of the oxidizing influence of 
these plants is the production of nitric acid, carbonic acid, and water, but 
whether these are all the result of the activity of one form of mico-organism 
or not is as yet unknown. For many years some of the most accurate in- 
vestigators in this country and in Europe have l^een engaged in the study 
of the organisms that transform organic nitrogen into nitrates. These 
investigations have proved that there is more than one kind of microbe en- 
gaged in the work. ("Romomber that a microbe, or bacterium, is a plant and 
not an animal.) One form feeds on ammonia and transforms it into nitrous 
acid, making nitrites, and can go no further. Another form then takes up 
th^ work of oxidation and from these nitrites forms nitric acid, and hence 

166 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

nitrates of the bases that may exist in the soil such as lime, magnesium or 
potassium. This hist form has no power to attack ammonia, but must have 
a nitrite for its food, and the previous work of breaking down the organic 
matter and the release of ammonia must be done by other plants. Both of 
these organisms are present in enormous numbers in any cultivated soil, but 
most largely, of course, in those having a large amount of nitrifiable organic 
matter. ' 

The work of both organisms goes on together. Nitrogen added to the 
soil in the form of ammonia must go through the oxidation process conducted 
by these minute plants, and be changed into a nitrate before our crops can 
use it. This shows the importance of having nitrogen present in a fertilizer 
in two forms. Nitrate of soda, for instance, is already in the form of a 
nitrate, and plants can use it at once if they are in active growth ; if not used 
at once it soon washes from the soil. Then the supply of nitrogen must be 
kept up through the nitrification of organic ammonia in the form of cotton 
seed meal, fish scrap, castor pomace, tankage, etc., generally used in the man- 
ufacture of a complete fertilizer. 

At Eothamsted, England, the nitrous organisms were found abounding 
in the surface soil and down to three feet from the surface in a clay soil, but 
the organism which makes nitrates from the nitrites is found in the surface 
soil only, although it may do its work in a sandy soil at a greater depth. 

nitrates are easily drained from the soil. 

It was found at Eothamsted, that the drainage water from a field annu- 
ally cultivated in wheat without manure, carried oif 3.2 parts of nitrogen to 
every million parts of water, on an average, during the year. If this much 
is continually being carried off from a field that has been cultivated without 
manure for fifty years, how much greater must be the loss of nitrates from 
land regularly fertilized and left bare, as the cotton lands of the South have 
been for many generations. This loss from bare soil is one of the chief 
reasons for a proper rotation. In soils occupied by leguminous plants the 
subsoils become rich in nitrates drained downwards. 

CROPS which prevent loss of nitrogen. 

"Cereal crops, whose growing period is confined to spring and early sum- 
mer, are very poor conservers of soil-nitrogen." Continuous, clean culture 
will soon impoverish a good soil. Permanent pasture has been shown to be 
the best conserver of nitrogen in the soil. But all land cannot be kept thus 

How Legumes Help the Faemer — 167 

covered, hence the importance of a rotation which will bring cover crops as 
often as possible on the land The ease with which nitrates are washed out 
of the bare soil, and the fact that there is very little of this loss when the 
soil is covered with a growing crop, shows the reason why the cotton lands of 
the South have lost fertility, through the leaving of the land bare and fully 
exposed to the heavy rainfall in winter. In the South especially, there 
should always be shading crops of peas in summer, on all land not in culti- 
vation with hoed crops; but the hoed crops should always be followed by 
crops that will keep a green growth on the land during the winter. In a cli- 
mate where the soil is locked up with frost during the whole winter, there 
may be some advantage gained by fall plowing of a heavy soil, and letting it 
lie to freeze and mellow in a rough state all winter. But in the South, where 
there is always more rain than freezing, bare land will lose fertility faster in 
winter, so far as the nitrogen is concerned, than it will in the summer crop- 
ping. Fortunately we have crops especially fitted for a winter cover to fol- 
low the cotton or corn, and crops, too, that will be gathering nitrogen from 
the air instead of allowing it to waste. 


We have pretty thoroughly discussed the subject of nitrification, or the 
change of organic ammonia into nitrates, in the soil, but we must remember 
that this is a different process from the acquisition of the aerial nitrogen by 
the microbes that live on the roots of clover, peas and other leguminous 
plants. These get the free nitrogen-gas of the air and leave it in the form 
of organic matter in the roots of the peas or clover grown on the land, and 
this organic matter must then go through the process of nitrification before 
plants can use it. This is a fortunate thing for the farmer, for if the work 
of the microbes on the roots of legumes was confined to only the formation 
of nitrates in the soil they would probably be all washed away before the next 
season's crop came on the land. Probably a considerable portion is thus 
formed and lost to the soil, for the exact process by which the microbes so 
transform the free nitrogen that the legumes can take it up, is one of the 
things of which little is known; but the larger part, perhaps, is left in the 
form of organic matter, which must go through the process of decay and 
nitrification before it can be used, and, hence, is held in the soil till the fol- 
lowing crop has a chance to make use of it. 



For by far the greater part of the United States it is probable that the 
most useful nitrogen fixing crop is the red clover, and in all the great grain 
growing sections the development of the productiveness of the soil depends 
very largely on the success with which clover can be grown. There has, of 
late years, been a great deal of complaint all through the Northern States of 
the difficulty in getting a good stand of clover. We often hear farmers say 
that their land is "clover sick." Generally the truth is that it is sick for 
the lack of clover. The success of the microbes on legumes has been found to 
depend upon the soil being in a weakly alkaline condition. Where the soil 
is decidedly acid clover will not thrive. If, therefore, it is found that there 
is difficulty in getting a stand of clover, the soil should be tested for acidity. 
A piece of blue litmus paper can be had at any drug store ; if this is placed 
in the damp soil, and is found to change to a pinkish color, it may be assumed 
that there is acidity in the soil, and that a dressing of lime will bring about a 
change. We once saM' a field which had been long known as clover sick on 
which a dressing of lime at once cured the sickness and clover grew with 
great luxuriance. 


This will depend on the character of the farming done, and which of 
the crops is the money crop of the farm. In growing wheat on a heavy wheat 
soil there is no doubt that, as a rule, the heaviest crops are grown on a clover 
sod summer fallowed after the first crop of clover has been cut for hay. 
Summer fallowing brings matters in the soil into an available state and 
results generally in a good wheat crop. But whether in the long run it is 


The Best Leguminous Plants — 169 

best we are very doubtful. We long ago came to the conclusion that the 
best average crops of wheat and corn are produced in a three year rotation 
where the wheat follows the corn or tobacco or potatoes, and crops are pro- 
duced in place of a long summer fallow. In such a rotation the hoed crops 
would come on the clover sod, with all the winter accumulation of manure 
spread broadcast. The process of nitrification of the organic matter in the 
clover roots and the manure would go on rapidly through the summer in the 
hoed crops, and they would get part of the benefit, while there would still 
be enough nitrogen left to carry the wheat crop ; and there would be no need 
on most lands for the use of any fertilizer on the wheat except a liberal dress- 
ing of phosphoric acid in the cheap form of an acid phosphate, 
or, on light soils, a dressing of acid phosphate and potash. In 
each alternate round of the rotation a light dressing of lime on the young 
clover, the next spring after the wheat is cut, will keep up the productiveness 
of the soil for the clover crop. In this rotation one of the most important 
matters for the improvement of the soil is for the land to go into winter with 
a thick mat of clover, preceding the spring when it is to be plowed for corn. 
No pasturing should be allowed on the lands under rotation, but a permanent 
pasture should be provided and kept in a productive condition by annual 
top dressings of fertilizers. We have noticed, recently, in one of the best 
wheat growing sections of Maryland, that the practice is to graze the clover 
to the bare ground during the summer. The result is that the heavy clay 
soil gets very deficient in organic matter, and while the wheat crops are good, 
the land runs together and bakes so badly that the corn crop is far from being 
what it should be. A good coat of clover leaves over the soil, especially in a 
mild winter climate, is very important to the maintenance of the nitrogen 
in the soil, and for the keeping up of a due amount of humus, or material 
susceptible of nitrification. If the clover is grazed to the bare ground during 
the summer and fall, there is less humus making material returned to the 
soil than should be, and there is not enough of green growth to prevent the 
great loss of nitrates during the winter. In a mild climate the clover may, of 
course, be mown twice, but all growth after the second mowing should be 
sacredly preserved for the good of the land. 


This annual plant has of late years attracted a great deal of attention, 
and there has been much diversity of opinion and experience as to its value. 
North of Central Pennsylvania there seems to be some reason to doubt its 
hardiness in certain soils, and in cold winters. But from Pennsylvania 

170 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

southward there arc few localities in which it cannot he successfully grown. 
It is a plant particularly adapted to Southern conditions. All over the South, 
particularly in the cotton belt, the red clover has been found a very uncer- 
tain plant, as it burns out during the heat of the first summer. But the 
crimson clover, sown in the fall and making its growth during winter and 
early spring, has been found in most places of inestimable value. Its growth 
is made at a time when no crops are needed on the land, and it keeps up the 
fixing of nitrogen in the soil during all the mild winter weather, and makes 
ci fine preparatory crop for either corn or cotton. It furnishes the cotton 
farmer a crop to cover his fields that would otherwise be bare all winter, for it 
can be sown among the standing cotton, and thus provide a fine preparatory 
crop for the corn that follows the next spring in a three year rotation. With 
crimson clover in winter and the cow pea in summer, the cotton farmers have 
a team of legumes that cannot be equalled in other parts of the country, and 
which enables them more rapidly to improve their lands than can be done 
anywhere else. 

In the South there has grown up an impression that crimson clover suc- 
ceeds best when sown on land without any preparation whatever. This has 
grown out of the fact that we have had uniform success in sowing the seed 
on a wheat or oats stubble, and it is not the absence of preparation, but the 
shading of the stublile that has protected the young clover from the sun. 
Sown among corn after the last M^orking, and before the ground has at all 
crusted, will usually be successful. The same may be said of sowing among 
cotton at last working in August. When sown on well prepared land and 
fully exposed to our hot August or September sun there is frequently a loss 
of the entire sowing, if the seed germinates after a summer shower followed 
by a hot sun, which scalds off the young plants. One of the best nurse-plants 
is a light sowing of buckwheat. This germinates quickly and makes a shade 
at once. Fall oats will also answer very well in the South, and the whole can 
be mown together in the spring as soon as the clover is fairly in bloom. This 
is an important point, if the clover is intended for hay, for if the heads are 
allowed to mature the stiff hairs on them make the hay a dangerous food for 
horses. As I write this the following wise editorial comes to hand in the 
American Agriculturist : 

"A few years ago seedsmen began pushing crimson clover and insisting 
that it could be grown almost anywhere. After careful investigation The 
American Agriculturist warned its readers, in cold climates, to avoid sowing 
extensively with the expectation of carrying it over the winter. We pointed 
out the benefit which might be derived from seeding in spring or mid-summer 
and plowing under as green manure. The past five years experience proves 

The Best Leguminous Plants — 171 

that our position was the correct one. North of the south line of Ohio this 
clover will soldom winter, except in some of the coast States. In the South 
where the soil is rich enough, it winters well and is a great nitrogen gatherer. 
In the North, orchardists, small fruit growers and some general farmers 
testify to its great value as a soil enricher, even though it must be sown anew 
each season. All this goes to show the wisdom of first trying new things on 
a small scale.'' 

This we believe to be the true statement of the case, and we are satisfied 
that this clover can be made a valuable catch crop in sections where it will not 
usually winter, by sowing on stubble where the red clover has failed, and thus 
prevent the loss of a nitrogen gatherer on the land. On the Atlantic coast 
we have no doubt that it will succeed further north than it does in the Mis- 
sissippi Valley. On the northern limit of its culture the seed should be sown 
early in July. From Virginia southward September is the best month for the 
sowing, and the place for it is either among corn, or cotton, or on the stubble 
where peas have been mown. Fifteen pounds of seed should be sown per 
acre. This year we have sown some among standing corn at last working 
in July, and it is yet too soon to state whether it will be a success or not. At 
the present writing (August 9) there is a good stand* 

cow PEAS. 

The greatest of all nitrogen gatherers, at least for all the country south 
of the Potomac, and for a good area north of that line on the Atlantic coast, 
is the Southern cow pea. The name pea has led to a great deal of misunder- 
standing among our Northern friends in regard to the nature of the plant, 
and we often have inquiries as to whether the Southern pea will do to sow 
with oats as the Canada pea is sown. The Canada pea is a true pea, but the 
Southern cow pea (Vigna Catiang) is more nearly allied to the bean, is a 
tender, hot weather plant, and will not grow till the soil is warm. Hence 
it cannot bo used in connection with oats, since the oats will not thrive if 
sown at the time peas should be sown, and the peas will not grow if sown at 
the time the oats should be put in the ground. The only pea to associate 
with oats in spring is the Canada field pea, of which we will have more to say 
hereafter. The great advantage of the Southern cow pea is the ease with 
which the soil can be covered with a nitrogen gathering crop, after the crop 
of small grain has been harvested, and the immense crop of the most valuable 
forage, which can be mown the same season. We have often said that the 
Southern farmer does not need to regret the fact that red clover does not 
thrive on his lands, for in the cow pea he has a plant that will do all that the 

•The Intense heat of September kiUed it. 

172 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

clover can do and will do it in a tithe of the time it takes clover to do it, and 
which will, at the same time, give him a crop of forage of unequaled value 
for stock of any kind. 

We have heen fighting the battle for the cow pea for a generation, and 
its value as a hay crop is being recognized in localities far North of where 
we formerly thought it possible to successfully grow it. This has largely 
been brought about by the introduction of early maturing varieties, like the 
Warren Extra Early, which ripens in sixty days from the sowing; and thus 
gives the Northern grower an opportunity to get the crop almost as well as 
the Southern farmer. Especially in the West has its value been recognized. 
The cattle feeders of Illinois and Missouri have found that there is no hay 
which will compare with the cow pea hay in the fattening of beeves for the 
export trade, and the breeders of horses in Missouri, and even in the blue 
grass region of Kentucky and Tennessee, have found that pea vine hay will 
promote the growth of colts as no other feed will. The Missouri Experiment 
Station has advised the farmers there to substitute the cow pea for timothy 
as a hay crop. Its great feeding value taken in connection with its great 
capacity for getting the aerial nitrogen and fixing it in the soil for the suc- 
ceeding crop, places the Southern cow pea at the very head of all forage 
crops, for all the country south of the 40th parallel at least; and in 
light, warm soils considerably north of this parallel. We have had letters 
from farmers in Southern Michigan and Vermont who are enthusiastic in 
praise of the value of the Southern pea for their lands. 

But the true home of the cow pea is, of course, in the South, and 
especially on the sandy soils of the cotton country of the. Southern coast re- 
gion. In this region the cow pea flourishes as it docs nowhere else, and 
produces a hay crop which for feeding value has no equal anywhere, and 
which, in connection with the corn crop and a permanent pasture of Bermuda 
grass (which also reaches its greatest perfection in the same region) enables 
the cotton farmer to feed cattle and sheep more cheaply than they can be fed 
in any other part of the whole country, and to feed them right where the 
beef cattle are shipped abroad. 

When once the farmers of the cotton belt realize the great advantage 
which the cow pea gives them for the economical feeding of stock, they will 
get to farming better and to growing their staple more cheaply by reason of 
a lesser dependence on the fertilizer mixer. The cow pea not only makes 
the most valuable hay, but is the greatest of all nitrogen gatherers, and will 
enable the cotton farmer to build up his soil more rapidly than the Northern 
farmer can do it with clover. With the introduction of the early ripening 
varieties the cultivation of the Southern pea has been extended far north of 

The Best Leguminous Plants — 173 

what was formerly considered its limit for profit. Several peas are now to 
be had which will ripen seed in GO days from the sowing, and will, in the 
South, make two crojjs in one season on the same land; while there is hardly 
a section of the country where GO days of warm weather cannot be had. These 
early sorts are not as heavy vine makers as the later ones, and hence will not 
make as heavy a crop of forage, but they will make effective collectors of the 
free nitrogen of the air, and can easily be made in most sections to take for 
a time the place of clover on a wheat stubble where it has failed. As a food 
plant the greatest value of the pea will be to the dairyman, in saving for him 
the purchase of wheat bran, while at the same time aiding him in enriching 
his soil. Experiments made at the Delaware Station showed that cow pea 
hay would easily take the place of bran in a rotation for milk. It was found 
that when cows were taken off of a rotation in which wheat bran was a con- 
stituent, and the same amount of protein was supplied to them in cow pea 
hay they did not shrink in milk or butter production, but when they were 
taken off from the peas and returned to the bran they at once decreased in 
milk flow. The importance of the fact thus demonstrated can hardly be over 
estimated, for even as far north as the southern part of Vermont we have 
the same report from dairymen, who say that they find they can no longer 
afford to do without the cow pea. The substitution of bran, which calls for 
a cash outlay on the part of the dairyman, by a crop that helps him increase 
the productiveness of his acres while furnishing him the food that he needs, 
will give an increased profit to the dairy farmer that is hard to estimate. 

To those in the Xorth who are unacquainted with the Southern cow pea, 
we have to say that the plant is not a true pea, as they have long been accus- 
tomed to class peas. The true pea is a very hardy plant and well suited to 
Northern conditions. The cow pea is more nearly allied, in relationship and 
appearance of seed and plant, to the bean family, and is a hot weather plant 
which will not endure the slightest frost. And yet, while the plant is so 
tender, there are some varieties which are so hardy in the seed that they will 
remain in the ground in the South over winter and make a volunteer crop 
the next summer. This fact has led some in the North to suppose that the 
seed can be planted earlier than is usually advised. But it will generally be 
found that sowing the seed before the ground is warm will result in a very 
imperfect stand and a poor crop. We make these statements for the benefit 
of the large number of people who are continually writing to know whether 
the Southern pea can be sown along with oats as the Canada pea is sown. 
A little reflection will show anyone that this cannot be done. Sown at the 
time oats must be sown in the spring, the greater part of the peas would rot in 
the ground, and sown at the time peas should be sown, the oats would make 

174 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

a poor showing. The varieties of the cow pea cultivated in the South are 
almost innumerable. Those which nuike a heavy growtli of vine are, as a 
rule, too late for cultivation north of Central Virginia. But one of the best 
forage makers, the l)lack seeded pea, can be grown easily as far north as Cen- 
tral New Jersey, and the Whippoorwill or Speckled pea, which makes a fair 
growth of vine, and is a large cropper of peas, has succeeded well in Southern 
New England, and the Warren Extra Early has ripened seed up on the shores 
of the Great Lakes, and in Iowa. There are indications that all the varieties 
gradually acclimatize themselves if taken gradually northward. Some years 
ago we sent several varieties of our peas to Cornell University Experiment 
Station, and it was found that the Black and the Clay pea ripened there from 
North Carolina seed, while the same varieties from seed raised in Louisiana, 
failed to ripen. This shows the importance of getting seed grown as far 
North as possible if the crop is to be grown in a northen latitude. 

A few years ago we had a letter from a gentleman in Iowa, who said that 
he moved there from Southern Missouri, and having been accustomed to the 
Black Eye pea as a table vegetable he thought he would try them there. Get- 
ting a few seeds from Missouri, he planted a row in the warmest part of liis 
garden. They grew well but only one plant ripened any, and this made but 
three pods. He saved these and planted them the next season in his garden 
and every plant ripened a full crop. This gave him about a peck of seed, 
and he planted two rows alongside his corn field. That Summer drought 
and hot winds almost ruined the corn, Avhile the rows of peas grew with the 
utmost luxuriance. One of his neighbors, a cattle man, came over to condole 
on the great damage to the corn crop, and was shown the peas. He begged 
the owner to save every pea, saying that they would settle the stock bujsiness 
for Iowa and furnish a safeguard against drought and hot winds. 

A correspondent in Central Illinois wrote that the frost caught his peas 
before he had a chance to cut them, but a bunch of cattle turned on the dead 
peas got rolling fat liefore snow came, and he was satisfied that they would 
be of inestimable value, even if none were ever cut. And yet while this plant 
has been grown in a desultory way in the South for generations, the cotton 
farmers have been slow in waking up to the value of the plant they have at 
hand. In many sections the farmers, recognizing the damage that was being 
done in the annual culture of cotton on the same land, thought to help 
matters by what they called "resting" the land. That is, they allowed the 
land to lie idle one year and grow up in weeds and grass, to be plowed under 
for the next year's cotton crop. Of course, even this amount of organic 
matter returned to the land, and the summer shading of the soil, was a great 
help. But the natural growth was merely organic matter, and the weeds 

The Best Leguminous Plants — 175 

and grass had not tlie power the legumes have to gath(>r the nitrogen from the 
air, and thus increase the fertility of the soil, while adding a valuable food 
crop for the keeping of cattle, which was impossible under the resting method. 

Now, by degrees, the Southern farmers are finding out that the best 
rest which can l)e given to their land is to keep it busy, growing crops that 
will tend to build up its fertility, while at the same time enabling them to 
feed more stock and to raise more and better manure. And this is done, too, 
by a cleansing crop, instead of the rest crop of weeds and grass, which filled 
the soil with seed for future brow sweatings. The old time cotton farmers 
thought that farm rotation was a good thing for the North and the grain 
growing districts, but that cotton was the one crop which could not be fitted 
into an improving rotation ; and to this day the same impression prevails 
among many of the tobacco growers of the South. While the fact is, that 
no crops so easily lend themselves to a regular and systematic rotation, 
whereby stock may be fed and the farmer made gradually more and more 
independent of the fertilizer mixer. 

There has been a great deal of inquiry in regard to the quantity of seed 
of the cow pea that should be sown per acre. The quantity will depend on 
the fertility of the soil and the purpose for which the crop is to be applied. 
On strong land, where the crop is intended to be cut and cured into hay, if 
thin sowing is practiced the stems will grow too large and stout to cure well. 
TIence, for a hay crop, on strong land, the peas should be sown at the rate of 
one and a half bushels per acre if sown broadcast. If on thin land, and the 
crop is intended to be used as a means for soil improvement, they had better 
lie sown in rows and cultivated and fertilized. In this case three pecks will 
be abundant seeding. On soil of only fair fertility and where the crop is to 
be used for hay, one bushel sown broadcast will be sufficient. There is a 
growing tendency among the most thoughtful farmers to plant the crop in 
rows and cultivate it, as many are satisfied that they can get a better crop 
either of peas or forage in this way, and one intelligent farmer in Virginia 
says that after years of experimenting he gets the l)est results from one peck 
per acre, drilled in rows and cultivated like corn. Since the seed is gener- 
ally high priced it is important that none shall be wasted, and it will be wise 
for farmers to experiment on their own soils to test this point. While the 
cow pea can be used in the renovation of worn soils more easily than "red 
clover, because of the fact that it will thrive on land where clover will not, 
still its growth can be greatly enhanced and the work it will do for us greatly 
increased by the judicious application of phosphoric acid and potash, and 
thus we can get more forage to feed while getting more fertility added to the 
soil. The experiments we have described at the Tennessee Station show how 

176 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

fully the protein needed in a ration for fattening beeves can be supplied by 
the cow pea for little more than half the cost of cotton seed meal, and better 
beef produced. From the products of his farm, then, and from crops that 
improve his land, the Southern farmer can make money in feeding beef 
cattle easier than the farmer of the North and West, and there will be no 
permanent improvement in the Southern farming until there is more of this 
stock feeding and less of spending money for nitrogenous fertilizers we do 
not need to buy if we farm aright. If one half of the millions of dollars the 
cotton States of the Atlantic seaboard spend every year for fertilizers con- 
taining nitrogen for the cotton crop, was spent on phosphoric acid and 
potash, and applied to the pea crop preceding the cotton crop, there would 
soon be a vast improvement in the cotton crop, half the money would be saved, 
and in a short time more than half could be saved by the feeding of the 
abundant forage produced. One intelligent observer has said that the dif- 
ference between the Carolinas and Texas was in the stock feeding. Texas, 
with her empire of fresh soil, grows more cotton than any other State, and 
yet Texas raises three beeves for every bale of cotton she grows; while the 
Carolinas raise one animal for every three bales of cotton produced. Until, 
b}* the proper use of the great forage plant with which the South is blessed, 
the proportion is put in the same shape it is in Texas, there will be no per- 
manent improvement in the soils of the Carolinas. 


Vicia sativa and some others of the same genus have become very gen- 
erally naturalized in the South, and grow freely every winter in all vacant 
spots, and at times among grass and other herbage. These are rather light 
croppers, however. More recently attention has been directed to another of 
the species of this genus, vicia villosa, the hairy or sand vetch. This plant 
has been found to succeed under very diverse conditions, from the far North 
to Gulf States. Its rapid growth and its hardiness in a great range of cli- 
matic conditions renders that at present the most promising winter growing 
legume we have, and it will probably take the place we had hoped the crimson 
clover would take all over the country. While the value of the hairy vetch is 
not as yet fully decided, it is certainly the most promising plant for its place 
we have yet tried, and we trust that future trials will confirm this good opin- 
ion. If allowed to ripen seed, this plant will seed the land and reproduce 
the crop the following fall. But being a winter growing plant, it can never 
become a troublesome weed. 

The Best Leguminous Plants — 177 

burr clover. 

Another legume which has been attracting a good deal of attention of 
late in the South is the burr clover, niedicago denticulata, a sort of annual 
alfalfa. This, like the vetch, seeds the ground and "volunteers" year after 
year. It is a winter growing plant and not a very heavy forage maker, but in 
the South will furnish stock a green bite at almost any time during the 


This plant is a native of Southeastern Asia. Botanically it is called 
glycine hispida, and has gotten the incorrect name of soja bean. It is an 
important article of food in Asia, particularly in Japan, where there are as 
many varieties in cultivation as we have of cow peas in the South. Though 
the plant was introduced into England in the eighteenth century little inter- 
est was excited in it, and it was not till very recently that experiments have 
been made in this country and in Europe, which have demonstrated its value 
as a soil improver and a forage plant. The soy is an erect growing plant, 
growing in good soil to the height of five feet, and bearing a profuse crop of 
hairy pods. The different varieties are distinguished by the color of the 
seeds and the time it takes for the crop to mature. For a northern latitude 
and a short season, the Early White is perhaps the best, but it makes little 
forage and drops its leaves very early. Medium Early Green is about the best 
for hay making purposes, and there are later varieties which are valuable 
in the South. Ijike all other legumes the soy thrives best on a soil well 
supplied with phosphoric acid, potash and lime, and while it gives a heavier 
crop on strong soils, it will thrive on land too poor to make a crop of clover. 
In fact, the plant thrives on a great variety of soils. One of the most valu- 
able features of the soy is its ability to withstand droughts that would kill 
corn. The upright habit of the plant makes it easier to handle in harvesting. 
The seed of the soy may be sown broadcast, but the best crops are usually 
grown where the beans are drilled in rows, like ordinary beans, and well 
cultivated. The IMassachusetts Station found that while the soy, like other 
legumes, needs potash, it does best when it is supplied in the form of a 
muriate. When sown in drills, half a bushel of seed will suffice for one acre 
of land ; when sown broadcast twice as much, or more, will be needed. When 
sown for hay the ordinary wheat drill will put them in about right, and the 
hay will be more easily cured when the plants are grown thickly. The crop 
should be cut for hay as soon as the pods are mature, but not dry and hard. 
Unlike the cow pea, the hard round seed of the soy admits of the crop being 

178 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

threshed for the seed with an ordinary machine, which would split most of 
the cow peas. A crop of two tons or more of hay can be made on land in 
fair state of fertility, and if the season is very dry the soy will make a heavier 
crop than the cow pea, but in our experience the hay has not as great feeding 
value as that from the cow pea, and there is far more waste of woody 
stems, etc. 

We are inclined to believe that the soy bean is particularly well adapted 
to the making of silage, and that the mixing of it with corn silage will be 
found to be the most economical and profitable mode of using the crop. 
Another use that can be made of the soy is to feed it down by hogs on the land 
where it grows. If fed off by sheep and hogs, the plant will make a very 
rapid improvement of the soil, and it may be that under some conditions this 
may be the best use that can be made of either the soy or the cow pea. At 
the Storrs Station, in Connecticut, the analysis of the soy places it far ahead 
of the cow pea in manurial value, but the analysis is open to the objection 
that the soy there attained maturity, while the cow pea was not at its best. 
In the South, the fertilizing constituents in the two would not be far apart, 
and the weight of crop would usually be in favor of the peas. In the North 
it can be used as a green manure crop if accompanied with a dressing of lime. 
But, as a rule, green manuring is poor practice anywhere, and is ruinous 
to the soil in the South. 


In general appearance this plant closely resembles the ranker growing 
varieties of the cow pea, but the blooms differ and the pods are very different 
from those of the cow peas, being shorter and thickly covered with velvety 
hairs, from which the plant gets its name. It is a member of the same great 
order as the cow pea, and, like it, can get nitrogen through the agency of its 
root tubercles. There is no plant of its class which makes an equal amount 
of growth to the velvet bean ; and it will furnish more organic matter to the 
soil than any other plant in the same climate. But it is unfortunately a 
plant that requires a very long season for maturing, and can never attain 
the importance of the cow pea north of the Gulf coast. It will, in a favor- 
able season, mature its seed as far north as Central-Eastern North Carolina, 
but to do this there it must be planted in April, and will then mature about 
the first of October. This long season precludes its use after small grain 
and among corn as the cow pea is used, and it will never compete with the 
cow pea north of Florida. 

At the Alabama Station crops of oats were sown, after turning under vel- 
vet bean vines and velvet bean stubble, cow pea vines and cow pea stubble, and 

The Best Leguminous Plants — 179 

also after the natural growth of crab grass and weeds were turned under. 
Where the vines were turned under, the yield of oats was 28.6 bushels per 
acre and 120G pounds of straw. Where only the stubble was plowed under, 
the yield was 38.7 bushels })('r acre and 1673 pounds of straw. Similar 
results were obtained from the plowing under of the cow peas. The average 
crop of oats after the velvet beans wus 33.6 bushels per acre, and after the cow 
peas 31.6 bushels, while on the land where only the natural growth was 
plowed under, the crop was 7.1 bushels per acre. This is one of the most 
striking evidences of the value of the legumes that we have seen. We would 
call attention to the increase in the crop from the plowing under of the 
stubble rather than the whole plant. Not only was the crop of hay sacrificed, 
but the crop of oats was much smaller where the entire crop was buried. 
Another commentary on the folly of green manuring as commonly practiced. 
The turning under of a mass of vegetation in the fall renders it impossible 
to get the soil into the best condition for the winter grain, and no matter 
whether it be oats or wheat the result will always be better when the crop 
is saved as forage and only the stubble turned. The amount of nitrogen the 
velvet bean can get in a favorable climate is well shown in the Alabama 
bulletin. A field of velvet beans was grown on very poor land, with 240 
pounds of acid phosphate and 48 pounds of muriate of potash per acre. The 
yield of green forage was 19,040 pounds per acre. The weight of the hay 
after five days curing was 8,240 pounds per acre. Samples were taken for 
analysis, and it was found that the hay and the roots stubble left in the 
ground there were 201.2 pounds of nitrogen per acre. This was equal to that 
contained in 2,800 pounds of cotton seed meal. "As the soil was very poor, 
the greater part of this nitrogen must have been obtained from the air. The 
yield of hay on this field was unusually large, but even if half this amount 
be taken as an average yield, we must have still a most impressive lesson as 
to the value of leguminous plants for storing up nirtogenous fertilizing 
material for the enrichment of the soil." It is evident, then, that it would 
be a waste for any farmer to buy nitrogenous fertilizer after the growing of 
such a crop. While the velvet bean will not mature seed with any certainty 
north of the Gulf States, T am decidedly of the opinion that as far north as 
Southeast Virginia the plant can be grown profitably for the reclamation 
of run down lands, but for hay purposes it cannot compete with the cow pea 
anywhere north of Florida. 


The peanut, while grown mainly as a commercial crop, is, nevertheless, 
one of the legumes; which, if it were properly used, would rank with the soil 

180 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

improvers and nitrogen collectors. We were shown, but a few days since, a 
plant of the common Virginia peanut, which had more nitrogen nodules on 
its roots than any we have ever seen. The whole of the roots of the plant 
were completely covered with these nodules. As commonly used the soil gets 
little of the benefit of this nitrogen collecting in the peanut crop, since the 
whole plant, roots and all, is removed from the soil. By a rational system 
of stock feeding on the peanut farms, and a good rotaion of crops, there is 
no doubt that the crop could be made to aid the farmer in the building up 
of his soil, instead of its depreciation. At any rate, it is evident that the 
peanut, like all other legumes, is able to get its own supply of nitrogen from 
the air. Nitrogen, as is well known, is the most expensive element when 
purchased in a commercial fertilizer, and the farmer whose money crop is one 
of the nitrogen collectors has a great advantage over those who have to get 
their nitrogen from plants that give a smaller cash return at the time being. 
If the peanut was grown as we grow cow peas and clover, and returned to the 
soil through feeding to animals, or by plowing the growth into the soil, it 
would be one of the best soil improvers ; while, as it used, it is the means for 
reducing the fertility of the land on which it is grown. The chief source 
of the peanut crop of the United States is the crop grown in Virginia, 
North Carolina and Tennessee. Much of, the soil in these States is admirably 
adapted to the successful growth of the crop, and for many years the crop 
was a very profitable one, but of late years there has been a combination of 
conditions which have made it far less profitable than formerly. The same 
causes which have brought unproductiveness to other crops of the South, the 
constant cultivation of the crop on the same land, the utter absence of a 
rational rotation of crops, and the complete removal of the plant, roots and 
top, from the soil, with a lack of attention of the proper fertilization, together 
with the commercial conditions which have placed the growers at the mercy 
of a combination, or trust, have all combined to make the crop unprofitable 
to the average farmer. Where crops of even 100 bushels per acre were 
formerly made the present average is put by competent authority, at 20 
bushels per acre. The same causes which have made the average cotton crop 
in the older cotton States less than one-half what it would be with good 
farming, have reduced the average of the peanut growers. The tables of 
analyses of the peanut products, which we give in the Appendix to this 
volume, will show the great value of the crop, and the great drain it makes 
on the soil, by the present system, or rather lack of system, in its culture. 
The food value of the peanut is shown to be high, since the kernels have an 
average of 29 per cent, of protein, 49 per cent, of fat, and 14 per cent, of 
carbohydrates, which shows that they rank higher than most other concen- 

The Best Leguminous Plants — 181 

trated foods like soy beans, cotton seed, etc. The tables show that the vines 
have a higher feeding value than timothy hay, while the hulls are far better 
feed than cotton seed hulls, which are so largely used for feed in the South. 
Peanut meal, or the ground product after the oil is extracted, is one of the 
most concentrated foods, ranking with cotton seed meal, linseed meal, etc., 
and commonly ahead of any of them. The kernels have a manurial value 
equal to that of cotton seed, and the vines are nearly as valuable for manure 
as those of the cow pea. And yet, like all legumes, the peanut draws 
heavily on the mineral constituents of the soil ; and while getting the nitrogen 
in abundance from the air this is mainly lost to the soil through the mode of 
handling the crop. Then, too, the crop is saved at a late period of the year, 
and the clean, cultivated ground is left bare during the rainy winters of the 
South, and the nitrates that have formed are rapidly leached away. 


The most widely known and popular variety is the running variety 
known as the Virginia. This is the peanut generally sold for eating by the 
roasters. There is a bunch variety of the same grown in Virginia, the pods 
of which are very similar to the running sort. A white nut, similar to the 
Virginia, is grown in Tennessee, and also an early bunch red variety. The 
African variety grown about Wilmington, N. C, is smaller but heavier, and 
makes more oil than the White Virginia nut. The Spanish variety is also 
largely grown in North Carolina and elsewhere in the South. It grows 
upright and makes its nuts close to the root, and from being planted close 
can make a heavier crop per acre. This variety, growing its nuts all in a 
cluster near the base of the plant, is more easily harvested than any other. 
On a warm, light soil it is probable that the peanut will thrive where Indian 
corn can be grown, though the climatic conditions in the South Atlantic States 
are more favorable than northward and westward. It is essential that the 
soil be light and mellow, and of a light color to prevent the darkenmg of the 
hulls. Lime is an essential to the success of the peanut, and a regular rota- 
tion in which the application of lime is comparatively frequent is best for 
the crop. Land near the coast that has had heavy applications of shell marl 
is particularly well adapted to the peanut. Besides the application of lime 
on soils where there is not naturally a supply, the chief needs of the peanut 
crop are phosphoric acid and potash. The common practice, in some sections, 
has been to give heavy applications of lime, but it is evident that with a good 
three year rotation of peanuts, corn and winter oats, a moderate liming once 
in three years will be all sufficient. The growth of some winter growing 

182- — (^Rop (tROWinct and Crop Feeding 

legume, like the crimson clover or hairy vetch, will have a good effect in 
restoring the humus, which most of the peanut lands are very deficient in. • 
With a corn crop following the peanut crop after the soil has had, during the 
winter, the growth of some kind of green matter, even if only rye, and all 
the home-made accumulation of manure is used on the corn crop, and cow 
peas are sown among the corn at last working, a good crop of oats can be 
harvested the following season, and the stubble planted at once in peas, to 
be cut for hay to feed the stock. Give the pea stubble a coat of lime- and let 
it lie till time to prepare for the peanut crop. Then, with a lil)eral dressing 
of acid phosphate and kainit in equal parts, there is no doubt that heavy 
crops can be grown. Many of the peanut growers have a most unreasoning 
prejudice against the cow pea, because, we suppose, of some injudicious use 
of the pea as green manure in the past. But properly used, there is no 
reason whatever that the cow pea should not be as useful a help to the peanut 
grower as to the farmer in other crops. With such a rotation, and plenty of 
stock to eat the forage grown, there is no doubt that the peanut crop could be 
restored to its old time production, and be the means, like other legumes, of 
building up, instead of diminishing, the productiveness of the land. Various 
formulas have been proposed for fertilizers for the peanut crop, all of which 
give some form of nitrogen, such as cotton seed meal or dried blood. These 
may be useful in the present state of peanut culture, but with the rotation 
proposed there will be no need for the purchase of nitrogen for the crop. In 
some parts of the peanut section it may be desirable to lengthen the rotation 
and introduce cotton between the cow peas and the peanuts, and to use the 
cotton stubble for the peanuts. But whatever the rotation, let it be duly 
considered and adhered to, and attention given to the improvement of the soil 
as the best means for the improvement of the crop. 


One'of the most valuable of all the legumes, where it succeeds, is alfalfa, 
or lucerne, as it is sometimes called. Botanically the plant is Medicago 
Sativa. This plant differs from most of the legumes we have mentioned in 
the fact that it is a true perennial, and remains productive year after year 
for an indefinite period. Alfalfa seems to be peculiarly adapted to the arid 
regions of the West, and it has been suggested that its success there is largely 
due to the fact that the lime has not been washed out of the soils, as it is 
found that the plant uses lime freely, and will hardly succeed in the Eastern 
States without the application of lime. Another reason is the fact that the 
plant sends its roots down several feet in the soil, and can endure drought 

The Best Leguminous Plants — 183 

better than a sliallow rooted plant. Experiments in the culture of alfalfa in 
the Eastern States have, as a rule, not been successful, but in some instances 
there has been great success. It seems evident that a soil underlaid with a 
compact clay subsoil is a poor place for alfalfa, since it cannot strike its 
long roots downward. Where there is a permeable subsoil, and the land has 
a suthcient amount of fertility, there is no doubt that good crops of alfalfa 
can be grown in the eastern part of the country. Mr. J. E. Wing, of Ohio, 
recently told me that he had found that the chief difficulty in getting a good 
start with it is the fact that in the first season's growth the plant is rather 
feeble, and the weeds are apt to crowd it to death ; but that if, as the plants 
start and the weeds start, the mower is run over it, the plant takes on new 
life and energy, and success follows. He thinks it will inevitably fail if not 
mown off the first summer. Then, if in the fall a dressing of lime is applied, 
we are of the opinion that in any ordinarily fertile soil alfalfa may be made 
to succeed. But it is not a plant suited to use in a short and improving rota- 
tion, and should be allotted a place where it can remain permanently. The 
Colorado Station places the manurial value of the stubble of alfalfa, after 
the crop is cut, taking this to include six inches below the surface, to be $19.28 
per acre. From the heavy stooling nature of the plant the stubble is heavier 
than in other legumes, and the Colorado estimate is based on the assumption 
that there will be 2.86 tons per acre of this organic matter. Rather a large 
estimate, it appears to us, but perhaps not too large for Colorado. Bulletin 
No. 35 of the Colorado Experiment Station is a very exhaustive treatise on 
the alfalfa plant, and can be referred to by those interested. After failing 
with the plant all our life we will try again with Mr. Wing's suggestion about 
the summer mowing, and hope to be able to have a patch of alfalfa. 

We take the following from the Report of the Kansas Board of Agricul- 
ture for 1900. In regard to experience with alfalfa on thin, sandy soil the 
report quotes from the letter of Mr. Patch as follows : "Our soil is sandy, jack 
pine land, and badly run out of nitrogen and humus. I sowed two and a half 
i'.eres to alfalfa, securing an even stand, which at first looked very promising. 
After a slow growth, it seemed to come almost to a standstill, with a sickly, 
yellow appearance. Before seeding, a strip of perhaps half an acre, was given 
a liberal dressing of lime. When winter set in, the plants liad reached an aver- 
age height of six inches, while on llic unlimed portion they should scarcely 
average more than two inches. T searched in vain for tubercles on the roots. 
When Prof. King saw the field he offered to send some earth from the alfalfa 
field at the Experiment Station. Tt wintered with a slight covering of snow, 
enduring on two nights a temperatun^ of 48 degrees below zero. When the 
earth arrived from Madison, I sowed some of it broadcast, and some I trailed 

184 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

in straight lines across the field, and some in contact with the roots of selected 
plants. In about two weeks the plants in places adjacent to the places of in- 
oculation began to take on a healthy, green color and more vigorous growth. 
Digging about the plants I soon found tubercles. Some reached 18 inches in 
height by July, when it was cut. Our soil is evidently unfitted for the profit- 
able growth of alfalfa, containing almost no lime, and too much iron." The 
report adds that ''This is a condition of soil which is seldom found in Kansas, 
where the springs, wells and creeks are almost universally supplied with 
'hard' water. It is possible that the failure of the bacteria to spread on the 
unlimed soil was due to an acid in the soil which needed to be neutralized by 
an alkali such as lime." We should have said that the experiments of Mr. 
Patch were made in Wisconsin, though quoted in the Kansas report. It 
shows what we have before said, that the great reason for the failure of alfalfa 
eastward has been the lack of lime more than anything else, and the failure 
to keep it mown the first season to keep down the weed-growth, and to invig- 
orate the alfalfa. It seems probable, then, that as we learn the needs of the 
plant, that alfalfa will be made a success in the East to a far greater extent 
than it has been. The report states that alfalfa has been successfully sown in 
Kansas every month from March to September. When the ground is not 
weedy, spring seeding has been successful, but the preference seems to be 
for fall seeding. Alfalfa seed should always be fresh, and old seed is a com- 
mon cause of failure. The advice is to use about 20 pounds of seed per acre, 
but as low as 8 to 10 pounds have been used with success. The mower should 
be run over the young alfalfa two or three times the first summer to keep 
down the weeds; if a good stand is there the second season it will be able to 
take care of the weeds. Alfalfa should be handled in hay making pretty 
much as clover hay is made, and should always be gotten in without rain and 
stored under cover, for no hay is more easily ruined by rain. 



The oat crop is seldom the money crop of the farm. Still it has a great 
value in the agriculture of all parts of the country, because of its value as a 
food crop for the farm teams and as a part of a well devised rotation. The 
oat is a plant better adapted to the conditions of a cool climate than a warm 
one, and hence the effort to grow oats in the South in the same manner as 
they are grown in the North generally results in failure, while observance of 
the needs of the plant would make the crop a success in the South as well as 
in the North. In all sections south of Washington, the oat crop should be 
a fall sown crop. It thus makes its growth during the cool season of the 
year and matures before the summer heat gets excessive, while spring sown 
oats in the South are checked in their growth by warm weather and fail to de- 
veloj) properly, making a light and chaffy grain. Long culture in this way, 
and "the survival of the fittest" have developed varieties of a more hardy 
nature, and better able to withstand the winter cold than the varieties com- 
monly sown in spring in the North. Such is the hardiness of these varieties 
that many Northern farmers have of late years found that the Southern win- 
ter oats are better for their early sowing in the spring. Some time since a 
reader of one of the leading agricultural papers asked the editor for informa- 
tion in regard to winter oats. He replied that there were no such things as 
winter oats, and that the so-called winter oats were simply the common oats 
5--own in the South in the fall. If that editor were to come into the Upper 
South and sow in the fall the same oats that the Northern farmers are sowing 
in the spring, he would soon find that there is some difference, for his North- 
ern spiring oats would be destroyed by a freeze that would not check the 
Southern varieties. Some years ago a friend of ours in Southern Virginia 
came to the same conclusion, and in the fall, instead of sowing the usual 
Virginia winter turf oats, he sowed some oats that he had bought from the 


186 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

North to sell for feed in his store. The result was that the oats came up 
and looked beautiful in the fall and were killed before Christmas, while the 
Virginia oats all around him were as green as ever. Of late years there has 
been some inquiry in regard to winter oats in the North, and farmers there 
have been inclined to try them. Jn some winters when snow is abundant 
and the weather not too severe, they might survive, but the chances are that 
fall sown oats will not succeed where the mercury goes below zero in winter. 
Even in the South they are apt to be injured by severe weather if sown too 
late to get properly tillered and strong before the setting in of cold. Hence, 
while wheat in the South should never be sown till after frost, the oats crop 
should always go in the ground in September, if possible, for the best results. 
Sown at this time the crop is a reasonably certain one anywhere south of 
Washington City, and all over the South is far better than the spring sown 

In many sections the oats crop comes in as a part of the rotation of crops 
preparatory to the sowing of wheat. In many parts of the North the sowing 
of wheat after corn is not satisfactory, as it cannot be done early enough for 
the best success there. Hence the common practice is to sow the oats on the 
corn stubble in the spring, and to fallow the stubble after harvest, as a prepar- 
ation for the wheat crop in the fall. While this fallow makes a good prepara- 
tion for the wheat it might be a great improvement in the warmer part of the 
IMiddle States to sow cow peas after the oats, with a heavy application of acid 
phosphate and potash, cut them for hay in September and then at once disc 
the ground fine for the wheat crop. This will give a fine hay crop and at the 
same time put the land into better condition for a wheat crop than if the peas 
were not sown. 

Then, too, there may be an improvement on the practice of putting the 
oats on the corn land in the spring. It is now generally acknowledged that 
the nitrates leach rapidly out of bare soil during the winter, Init that if there 
is a cover of green vegetation in winter, the loss is slight, if any. Now, in 
leaving the corn stubble for the oats in the spring, the land is subjected to 
this loss of nitrates which might be held there in green cover plants. Hence, 
where the spring oat cro}) follows the corn, it would be far better to sow crim- 
son clover among the corn at the last working, so that it will make for cover 
crop in winter, and a good crop for plowing under in the spring for the oats. 
The analysis of the oat plant shows that nitrogen plays an important part in 
its growth, more ihan it does in the wheat plant or other small grains. The 
clover, then, will have the further advantage of furnishing nitrifial)le organic 
matter for the oats. During the brief period in which the spring oat crop 
holds the land this organic matter will become well advanced and ready to 

SoMK Minor Crops — 187 

feed the crop following. Then when the oats are cut the land is sown in cow 
peas, and a good application of acid phosphate and potash will cause a fine 
growth of the peas, which can be mown for hay in September or October and 
the land at once well disced (but not replowed), for the wheat. Managed 
in this way we get two leguminous crops on the land between the corn and the 
wheat, and get a lot of excellent forage that we would not get if the oats stub- 
ble was merely summer fallowed. 

The old plan of letting land lie out in sod year after year is fast giving 
way to the short rotation and the keeping of the land always at work, grow- 
ing something either for feed or soil improvement. The old long rotation, so 
common once in Southeastern Pennsylvania, necessitated the division of the 
farm into a multitude of little fields, and made the keeping up of fences a 
serious item in the expenses of the farm, for fences are needed wherever long 
l)asturage is practiced. But with the coming in of the short rotation and a 
standing permanent pasture, the capacity of the farm for the feeding of stock 
is immensely increased. It has taken our farmers a long time to learn that 
])asturage belongs to sections of wider area and cheap land, that where farms 
are small and land costly a different method must be practiced, and the 
greater value of the products will warrant a more intensive agriculture. This 
has led, of late years, to the giving of more attention to. 


While the places where an exclusive practice of soiling are limited to the 
liigh priced acres in the immediate vicinity of the larger cities, where dairy- 
ing for milk can be profitably carried on and the product retailed, there is 
still much importance to the general farmer in the production of some soiling 
crops, and the practice, at times, of feeding cattle cut food green. There are 
always times in nearly every summer when the pasture is too short and dry to 
keep up the flow of milk, or even to keep cows in fairly good condition. If 
purchased food must be used to supplement the pasture it makes a costly ad- 
dition to the expense account. . Therefore it is to the interest of everyone who 
keeps cows (and of course that means all farmers) to provide from his own 
acres a balanced ration for his animals. The amount of food that can be 
gotten in a green state from a small area of highly enriched land would be a 
revelation to those who have never tried it. While soiling is adapted to every 
])art of the country it is nevertheless true that the longer season in the South- 
ern States gives the farmer there a wider range of crops for this purpose awd 
a longer time for green feeding. While we do not believe in what is com- 
monly termed "green manuring," or the plowing under of immature crops 

188 — Crop (tRowhstg and Crop Feeding 

for manure, we are in hearty sympathy with the manuring through the feed- 
ing of green crops. We know of no way in which the manurial resources of 
the farm can be so rapidly enlarged as through the growing, during the sum- 
mer, of a succession of crops for cutting and feeding. Not only the milch 
cows, but every animal that is kept on the farm can be greatly helped in sum- 
mer by green cut food. We once saw a striking example of this in a village 
of North Carolina. The leading merchant of the place, who kept a number 
of horses and mules for hauling, and also cows for family use, had an acre 
lot adjoining his barn, which he assured me kept six horses and mules sup- 
plied with food from June till frost. The land was sown in clover in Sep- 
tember, and that was cut in the spring for green feed and hay. Half the land 
was then manured and planted in corn, a few rows at a time. As fast as one 
planting appeared a few more rows were planted till the whole half acre was 
in corn. While this was coming on the second growth of clover on the other 
part was being cut and fed. When the first planted corn had tasseled and 
silked it was cut and fed and the rows at once replanted with corn, and so on 
in succession, the last rows being planted again in August. In September 
this part was manured and sown to clover, and the following spring after 
the clover was cut, the other half was taken for corn and treated as before. 
By constant manuring and the plowing of a clover sod, this acre of land made 
a product that was simply enormous, and furnished an amount of feed that 
one who had never seen anything of the kind could hardly realize as possible. 
We feel sure that even in this case the substitution of the cow pea for the 
second growth of clover would have given still greater results, for the green 
pea vines, in connection with the green corn, would have made a completely 
balanced ration, and would have been especially adapted to the needs of dairy 
animals. There are still other crops that can be used in a similar way, such 
as sorghum, which can be cut continuously, and reproduces from the sprouts, 
Avithout replanting during the whole season. There is hardly a farm on 
which something of the sort could not be practiced with a small piece of land 
near the barn kept well supplied with manure, and the products of which 
would not only furnish the manure it needs, but would make a surplus for use 
elsewhere. In the South, the cow pea alone, following a crop of annual 
clover cut in early spring, could be made to keep up a succession of food from 
June till frost ; for if not allowed to exhaust itself by blooming and seed mak- 
ing, the pea will give a succession of cuttings of green feed during the whole 
season. Even when pastured we have had the cow pea eaten down throe 
fhnes in one season. When pastures are parched and brown, the man who has 
had foresight to provide green food for cutting will be in a far better situation 
than the one who has not provided for this emergency, and he will be raising 

•Some Minor Crops — 189 

manure to help release him from the grasp of the fertilizer mixer; the most 
important matter of all to the Southern farmer. In the first starting of such 
a lot it may be necessary, in some places, from lack of fertility, to use a liberal 
supply of commercial fertilizer. In some sections crimson clover has failed 
from two causes, first lack of plant food in the soil, and, secondly, the absence 
of the nitrifying microbes in the soil. It has frequently been found that this 
clover fails the first season it is sown and succeeds on the same land the next 
season, simply because in the meantime the soil has become infected with the 
needed microbes. But while clover of any kind does not, on a fairly fertile 
soil, need any application of nitrogen, it nevertheless is greatly helped on a 
poor soil by an application of stable manure. In one section we have visited 
the farmers uniformly failed t(^get a good growth of this clover on their 
sandy soil. One fall a man in the adjoining town who had a livery stable, 
hauled out a good quantity of manure on one of his lots near the town, and 
sowed the land in crimson clover. The growth on that land was simply enor- 
mous, and revealed to the farmers around the reason for their lack of success. 
The same season of this success a farmer hauled out his manure from stall fed 
cattle and spread it down between his cotton rows after he had completed the 
cultivation of the crop, and then sowed crimson clover seed among the cotton, 
and had a great success. So whore the annual clover is to make the starting 
point for a soiling crop it will not be amiss if the manure is at hand to help 
it in that way, and then to further supplement the manure with a good dress- 
ing of acid phosphate and potash, mixed in proportion of five parts of acid 
phosphate to one part of muriate of potash. Two hundred pounds of this per 
acre on land that has had a light dressing of manure will insure a remarkable 
cutting of cloveft Soiling crops in summer, followed by the silage in winter 
will form the key to successful stock feeding and dairying in many sections 
of the country. Some place a great value on green rye as a soiling crop, be- 
cause of its earliness. But rye is poor food for any animal and makes very 
poor and ill-flavored milk. The newly introduced hairy vetch will well take 
the place of rye in any section. It will give as early a growth, and a food 
material incalculably better than the r3^e, and it can be well used as the start- 
ing point of the season's soiling and be followed by cow peas and corn. 


Near akin to the soiling practice is the one becoming common in some 
sections, of planting certain small lots near at hand wath crops that the pigs 
can gather for themselves. This, too, is a practice for which the long seasons 
in the South furnish especial advantage. While rooting their food from the 

190 — Chop Growing and Crop Feeding 

soil is not conducive to rapid fattening, it nevertheless keejjs the pigs in a 
thrifty condition during the early summer till there are cow peas for them 
to gather and peanuts to glean, and renders their keep very cheap till the time 
when they are fattened for slaughter, with corn. The Jerusalem artichoke 
is a favorite food with some, and on land of a sandy character, where the hogs 
can get them all out, they may have some advantages, being very hardy and 
furnishing food and exercise at a season when there is nothing else. But on 
a heavy clay soil, which would be seriously damaged by their rooting at the 
season when the tubers are available, and from which they could hardly 
glean the whole, the artichoke may become an intolerable weed, as we know 
full well. But in sandy soils they may well be used till clover comes in, and 
later on the ripening cow peas will be the place for the pigs. Sweet potatoes 
are sometimes fed to pigs in the South in this way, but in these days of quick 
transportation this crop has too great a value as a market crop to make the 
feeding profitable, except in the more remote neighborhoods. In more north- 
ern sections we would assume that the Canada field pea would be a valuable 
hog feeding crop till clover comes on. Where red clover flourishes, a special 
piece should be provided for the pigs so that they can live "like pigs in clover." 


While the millets belong rather to the botanical genus Panicum, the 
name has been a])|)]ied to a numl)er of plants of different genera. While most 
of the millets cultivated in this country belong to the Panic\|im genus, others 
belong to Setaria, or, as they now-a-days want us to call them, in the rage 
for changing Ijotaiiical names, Chaetochloa. Only those who s])end their 
whole time and energy in the upsetting of our old liotanical nomenclature 
can give any reason for the change. The farmer can, however, contini;e to 
know these by the name of the Foxtail millets. 

Millets are not a crop that will be profitalile to take into a reguhir rota- 
tion, ])ut there are times when they can ])e used as a catch crop, to fill out a 
gap in the forage supply, though in our opinion such conditions will be rare ; 
for at the time the millets should be sown the cow pea can as well be used 
for the catch crop, and the resulting forage will be immensely superior to that 
of any millet grown. Millets require the richest of soil to make a good crop, 
while the pea will thrive on soil of moderate fertility, and help the soil while 
it makes forage. Millet hay is at best a poor hay. It is also a dangerous 
hay for horses if the seeds are allowed to mature in the heads. If you have 

Some Minoh Ckops — 191 

some low lying land which is very fertile and which cannot be worked early, 
luid is not suitable for leguminous crops, you may grow millet with some 
profit, 'i'he finest crops we ever saw were on the dyked marshes along the 
Delaware River near Wilmington, Del. It is only on such lands that we 
would grow these non-leguminous forage plants. On land that would require 
fertilization to grow a good crop of millet it would be better to let the millet 
alone and grow something better adapted to the soil and capable of making 
better feed. The main fertilizer requirement of the millets is nitrogen, 
which, as we have seen, is the most costly of the ingredients in a fertilizer, 
and which the legumes can get for themselves. 


This is a plant closely allied to our Indian corn, but which requires a 
longer season to mature seed than it can get in the larger part of the United 
States. It is said to mature seed in Southern Florida, but even for this we 
cannot vouch. As a soiling crop teosinte will give a large yield of green 
stuff, about as valuable for feeding as immature corn stalks, and so far as we 
have observed, not so good in feeding quality as the corn because of its im- 
maturity. Those who look at bulk rather than quality will usually be pleased 
with teosinte. It can be cut several times during the summer on rich and 
moist land, and like the millets, should be grown on no other. Being of the 
same carbonaceous character as Indian corn and never reaching the mature 
quality of corn we cannot see any place in our agriculture for the plant; for 
on the same land Indian corn will give fully as much, if not more of real dry 
matter. It would be hard to find a plant of any kind that can approach our 
Indian corn for our purposes as a forage plant, to supply the carbonaceous 
elements of the ration. Corn is the king of this class of plants for the Ameri- 
can climate, and can never be surpassed here in its special field. Other for- 
age plants to have special value must be protein plants, like the legumes, and 
be su])plementary to the corn plant. Any plant that simply takes the place of 
corn is certain to fail in the United States, at least east of the Mississippi. 


This is one of the non-saccharine sorghums, which has attained consider- 
able importance west of the Missouri as a forage and grain producing plant. 
It withstands drought better than Indian corn, as all the sorghum family 
do, and gives quite a large crop of grain, which has value. It has attracted 
more attention in Kansas than anywhere else. As we have seen it grown 

192 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

here it does not anywhere near compare in growth and weight of crop with 
Indian corn or saccharine sorghum on the same land. It is probable that^ 
it is better adapted to the fertile soils and droughty climate of Kansas than 
to the east. Here we can grow far more and better feed from Indian corn 
on the same land. 


Considerable attention has been given of late to the saccharine varieties 
of sorghum as forage plants. Treated solely as a forage plant and sown 
thickly, broadcast, there is no doubt that sorghum will make a very passable 
hay, but a hay very hard to cure. Some farmers of our acquaintance tried 
sowing sorghum along with their cow peas, with the notion that it would 
make the peas easier to cure. It had the opposite effect, for peas are easily 
cured without sorghum but very hard to cure with it. Sorghum is mainly 
valuable as a soiling crop, to tide cattle over a summer drought. As a forage 
crop it is of the same class and less valuable than Indian corn, the king of 
American fodder plants. While sorghum and Kaffir corn will stand drought 
very well, they both succeed best and make their best crops on low, moist land, 
with plenty of fertility. Both are exhaustive crops and neither of them yield 
a hay that can compare in value with that from the legumes, which are bene- 
ficial to the soil. In the present state of our agriculture, especially in the 
older States, we cannot see the advisability of growing these non-leguminous 
forage plants when we can do so much better with the legumes, both in the 
quality of the forage and the value of the plants to the soil. In certain sec- 
tions of the South, like some parts of Texas, where the soil has exuberant 
fertility and the climate is droughty, the Kaffir corn and sorghum may have 
a special value ; but in our thin uplands in other parts of the country, we con- 
sider it unwise for the farmer to waste fertility in growing forage inferior to 
that which he can produce while helping in the improvement of his soil. The 
same may be said of the grasses in a large part of the South. There are rich, 
low lands where grasses can be profitably grown, but though we may seem 
heterodox, we are fully convinced that the South, so far as the uplands are 
concerned, does not need the grasses as she does legumes; and until these 
uplands are built up in fertility it is a mistake to waste time in the effort to 
grow the grasses for meadow purposes. With a standing pasture of Bermuda 
and a good rotation with the legumes on our uphinds, we can develop the pro- 
ductive capacity of our soils faster and maintain their fertility better without 
grass than with it. 


Forty years or more ago, it was assumed that the cultivation of market 
garden crops must be confined to the immediate vicinity of the cities requiring 
the supply, because it was thought that abundant supplies of stable manure 
were a first essential to the successful culture of garden crops. At that time, 
too, the rapid transportation from distant points was not established, hence 
all of our cities were dependent on the gardens of the immediate vicinity for 
their supply of vegetables, and from them supplies were sent to the smaller 
towns in their vicinity. But with the introduction of Peruvian guano, 
growers on the warm and sandy soils of New Jersey, outside of what had been 
the market garden region proper, began to produce certain easily grown and 
easily transported crops; but the market gardeners proper, with their few 
acres of high priced land, assumed that while peas and such things might 
be thus grown on cheap lands, they still would have the monopoly of the 
bulky cabbages, beets and other things for which they considered a supply 
of stable manure essential. For many years these market gardeners re- 
fused to take advantage of the commercial fertilizers, and adhered to their 
old time heavy applications of stable manure, believing that no real success 
could be had with the majority of vegetables without it. Even when the 
culture of early vegetables had extended to Norfolk, in the South, and was 
assuming an important position in the trade, such was the force of old habits 
that the first of the Norfolk gardeners spent large amounts in the freighting 
of stable manure, not only from their own city but from the North. 

But gradually the fact became evident that in the easily transported 
commercial fertilizers was the true source of profit for those at a distance 
from their market, and that the easy solubility of the complete fertilizer 
mixture was a great advantage in the forcing of early crops. They also 
realized the fact that after their early crops were off, they could cover their 
land with the cow pea, and thus furnish it with all the organic matter that 


194 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

made stable manure valuable. With all the extension of rapid communica- 
tion between the far South and the Northern cities, the great trade in early 
vegetables and small fruits could never have grown up but for the commer- 
cial fertilizers. 

Farmers who have been accustomed to the scattering of a hundred or 
two pounds per acre of commercial fertilizers, find it hard to realize the 
lavishness with which the wide-awake market gardener uses these forms of 
plant food. Now, even the market gardeners near the large cities have found 
cut that the}', too, can more cheaply fertilize their acres with the chemical 
manures and legumes, than by the hauling of so much stable manure, and a 
very considerable part of the commercial fertilizers used nowadays is used by 
gardeners, who do not hesitate to use them by the thousand pounds per acre 
instead of the hundred of the farmer. 

While the wise gardener will always stock his land with organic matter 
by the use of legumes, and will feed the same and make use of the manure 
thus made, he knows that he cannot, like the general farmer, depend on these 
alone as a source of nitrogen for his crops. There must be no lack of imme- 
diately available plant food to urge on the early and rapid growth of his 
crops, for upon their earliness and succulency depend the price he will get 
for them, and he cannot afford to take the slower means that may be all 
sufficient for the grower of wheat, corn or cotton. His crop has a higher 
value per acre, and he can afford to use the fertilizers in a manner that would 
be a lavish waste to the grain farmer. The great extension southward of the 
culture of garden crops for a time caused the growers near the large cities 
much uneasiness. When they saw their markets filled with Southern crops 
at a season when they were but just planting, they came to the conclusion 
that their occupation was gone. But time has proved that each section has 
now its own season in the markets, and that when the nearby gardeners 
bring in their fresh supplies the distant man must draw out; so that now, 
from the islands of the West Indies and Florida all the way to Canada, the 
great cities draw supplies continuously without break, and the seasons for 
certain vegetables and fruits run throughout the year. This great and con- 
tinuous supply has been brought about, not only by rapid transportation, but 
more largely through the general use of commercial fertilizers. 


While, as we have shown, the grain farmer can, through the use of leg- 
umes, avoid the purchase of an ounce of nitrogen, the market gardener must 
use fertilizers rich in all the elements of plant food. This is especially true 


of such crops as cabbages, cauliflower and other things of which the foliage 
above ground forms the important part, for we have seen that an abundant 
and readily available supply of nitrogen is essential to great leaf develop- 
ment. Then, too, with many of the crops of the market garden, potash is a 
very important element, and some liberal addition of this must be made, 
even in soils, which for the ordinary purposes of the farmer, are sufficiently 
supplied with this form of plant food. The size and starchiness of the 
potato depends rather on the presence of an abundant supply of potash than 
on the amount of nitrogen present, while many of the foliage crops, like 
lettuce, require liberal supplies of the-same. 

On the other hand the cabbage crop, while needing a plentiful supply 
of nitrogen, is especially benefited by a large application of phosphoric acid 
rather than of potash especially. 


Owing to the varied manurial requirements of his crops, and the abun- 
dant supply which he must have, the home mixing of fertilizers is of far 
more importance to the market gardener than to the general farmer, though 
valuable to both. To insure success in the growing of vegetables, gardeners 
must understand the requirements of their crops as to the proportions of 
the various plant foods they need, and this proportioning can best be done 
by the gardener himself from the purchase of the various materials best 
adapted to his purposes. All the large truck farmers of the South Atlantic 
coast mix their own fertilizers, many of them using such large quantities 
that they have erected houses and machinery for the purpose. In the follow- 
ing chapters I will give my experience in the treatment of the crops usually 
grown by market gardeners, and their fertilizer requirements, North and 
South, since in this respect there will be some variation with latitude and 



There is no crop commonly grown by market gardeners which has been 
more uniformly profitable than the asparagus crop. This is largely due to the 
fact that a considerable expenditure must be made and some time elapse 
before a profitable crop can be had; hence the temporary men, who rush 
in from time to time with their inferior crops of the annual vegetables, 
and out again when they find such unprofitable, seldom attempt the asparagus 
crop. The market value of the crop depends so much on the thoroughness 
of the preparation of the soil, its suitability to the crop, and the skillful 
treatment and handling of it, that unskilled men are soon driven out; 
while the producers of a really fine article always find it a profitable crop. 
North and South. Its value, when grown especially early, is such that 
heavy transportation rates can easily be paid ; while the price when those 
rates become prohibitive, is still sufficient to make its culture a profitable 
one near the points of consumption in the North. 


Asparagus plant«; are one of the supplies that every market gardener 
should produce for himself. Of course, they are offered at low prices all 
over the country, but really good plants are hard to get. Then, too, unless 
the packing is unusually well done, there is no plant more easily damaged by 
long shipment than asparagus roots. Cold and dryness will not hurt them, 
but too great a bulk and too much moisture will cause them to heat in the 
package and become worthless. Many years ago I bought from a nursery- 
man 30,000 roots of Conover's Colossal asparagus at the time when they 
were selling at $10 per thousand. They were transported but 50 miles, and 
were packed in one large crockery hogshead and one tierce, and had evidently 
been forced down with a screw press. They arrived during my absence, and 


Asparagus — 197 

my foreman received and planted them. On my return he told me that the 
roots were hot when unpacked and many of them moldy. Had I been at 
home they would not have been received. Out of the whole 30,000 not fifty 
plants grew, and I have never bought asparagus roots since. Some advise 
the planting of two-year-old roots as an advantage of a yearns growth, but I 
have never found that there was any advantage in these unless they had been 
singled out and transplanted at one year's growth. Most asparagus plants 
offered for sale have been grown entirely too much crowded, the object being 
to get as many plants as possible per acre. The grower who produces his own 
plants can avoid this. One of the most important points in the production 
of good asparagus plants is to grow them in the richest and best prepared soil. 
Plants grown thinly in such soil, are far better at one year than the majority 
of the plants sold are at two years. The books will tell you that it takes 
three years to produce salable asparagus, and under ordinary conditions it 
does. On one occasion I prepared and heavily fertilized a piece of land al- 
ready very fertile, for the production of plants for setting the following fall. 
They made a magnificent growth, and the season was very favorable. After 
planting what we needed there were about 50,000 plants left, and I proposed 
to sell these, and did sell a large number. To my surprise, when the plants 
began to shoot, the following spring, I found that in these nursery rows I had 
large and marketable asparagus, and did market quite a quantity but one 
season from the seed, and the transplanted roots gave me a very fair crop a 
year after setting. The abundance of plant food in the soil counts for more 
than age with the asparagus plant, and abundant feeding more than any 
special variety. There is one advantage to the grower in keeping his plants 
in the nursery rows till two years old ; this is that he can then find and reject 
all the pistillate, or seed bearing plants, and it is a great advantage to have 
none of these in the plantation, since seed production is an exhaustive process 
to the plant and the crop will be larger if the female plants are taken out. 
This is another reason for the grower producing his own plants. 

For the production of the plants T prepare a rich and rather moist piece 
of land, but by no means an undrained soil. If stable manure is abundant 
fill the land with well rotted manure, and add to it a good percentage of 
kainit or muriate of potash, for the development of strong roots depends on 
a full supply of potash in the soil in a soluble form. Sow the seed in shallow 
furrows and cover about two inches. Keep them as clean as an onion bed 
during the whole summer. The plants should stand about three inches apart 
to make fair roots, and if they come up too thickly, thin them when the size 
of a large darning needle and transplant them at good distances. These little 
plants transplant easily, and often make the finest of roots. In the South, 

198 — Crop Geo wing and Crop Feeding 

the young roots can be transplanted as soon as the tops have ripened, but there 
is no particular advantage in fall planting except that we are apt to be less 
pressed by work at that time. The best time for making the permanent plan- 
tation, North or South, is as early in the spring as the land can be worked. 


While the early spring is the best planting time, the preparation of the 
soil should be done beforehand. The best soil for the asparagus crop is a 
mellow, sandy loam. A deep, sandy soil will grow good asparagus, but will 
require more constant and heavier manuring on account of its leachy charac- 
ter; hence, while a sandy soil is earlier and better than a clay soil, it should 
be underlaid by a rather retentive subsoil for the best results, but it is im- 
portant that it be thoroughly and naturally well drained. Land that has 
been heavily manured annually, and cultivated in garden crops, is in better 
condition for asparagus than a fresh soil, and it will be an advantage that it 
has grown a crop of peas or clover the year before. These should be plowed 
under in the fall, and the subsoil plow run in every furrow, so that the land 
is completely broken 15 to 18 inches deep. If stable manure is plentiful 
it can be used liberally in this preparation. Then sow on the land a winter 
cover crop of rye to prevent the leaching of the nitrogen, and plow this under 
before planting in the spring. 

In planting run out furrows five feet apart, clean out as well as possible 
with the plow and then with the shovel until you have trenches ten inches 
deep, set the plants two feet apart in the rows and cover not more than two 
inches at first, tramping the earth to the roots. As the shoots begin to appear 
work the soil to them, always keeping the young, spindling shoot above the 
soil, till perfectly level. At each working in of the soil, also once before the 
cultivation begins and as soon as the planting is complete, apply 500 pounds 
per acre of the following mixture, until a ton per acre has been applied and 
the land is level : Acid phosphate, 900 pounds ; pulverized fish scrap, 600 
pounds; nitrate of soda, 100 pounds; muriate of potash, 400 pounds. Keep 
the plantation perfectly clean of grass and weeds during the entire season, 
and finally plow the soil in a ridge over the rows in the late fall, after the dead 
tops have been removed. The above mixture should be an annual application 
as growth l)egins in the early spring. Willi well grown plants, set in this 
way, some cutting may be made the second season, but should not be kept up 
late; the rows should be kept well hilled up in the fall, and the cutting made 
in the earth as soon as the shoots crack the surface. In some markets there 
is now a tendency to wish green asparagus; to produce this the roots should 

Asparagus — 199 

be plaiilc'd m-aivr ihv surfaet', and the cutting made when the shoot is long 
enough above tlie ground. For our own use we always grow the green aspara- 
gus, as we do not care for the tough, white article. To grow this we trans- 
plant the young plants as advised in the thinning, and place them at once 
in their permanent quarters. Being nearer the surface, this asparagus starts 
earlier in the spring, and to our taste is far superior to that grown under 
ground. But the market gardener must cater to the requirements of his 
market, and so long as people want white shoots he must grow them. 



Beans to the Southern trucker always means "snaps," or string beans; 
since these are about the only beans that it pays him to grow for Northern 
shipment. Snaps are one of the crops the profit in which depends on their 
earliness, and though a legume, it will always pay the market gardener to use 
some nitrogen in his fertilizer for the crop, since they are quickly grown and 
are off before the best of the nitrogen gathering begins. To the Southern 
market gardener the crop of snaps means a crop of hay, for as soon as the 
beans are shipped he turns the plants under, harrows the land smoothly and 
simply waits for his hay crop to grow. This is the ubiquitous crab grass, 
which at once covers every vacant spot in the Southern market garden in 
summer, and makes an excellent hay crop to follow some early crop. Hence 
it is better to give the bean land a fairly liberal dressing, as the hay crop will 
be all the better for what the beans do not use. It will be all the better not 
to use the common Southern method of putting the fertilizers in the furrow 
alone, but to sow it broadcast. For the bean crop, to be followed by crab 
grass hay, we would use 500 pounds per acre of the following mixture. The 
same mixture is equally good in the North, and the celery can follow the beans 
with additional fertilization: Acid phosphate, 1,400 pounds; cotton seed 
meal, 400 pounds; muriate of potash, 200 pounds, to make ton of 2,000 


These are a more important crop in the North than the South. The 
Large White lima bean so popular in the North, is a very poor cropper in the 
South, and hence the butter bean (or Seewee, the small lima) is generally 
used, and the early ripening form of this, the Henderson Bush lima is most 
generally used of late years. Lima beans differ from most other legumes in 


Beans in the Market Garden — 201 

the fact that they are greatly benefited by liberal applications of nitrogenous 
fertilizers, and if well manured they can be kept on the same land profitably 
year after year. 

For the production of the bush lima beans we have found that a liberal 
application of a complete fertilizer mixture is best, and the same mixture will 
be found equally well adapted to the large lima where it is grown. The great 
advantage to the market gardener in the little bush lima is its earliness, which 
enables gardeners in the far North to get lima beans where the large lima 
may be too late. It is very common to read that the large lima is of superior 
quality to the Sewee. Possibly it may be in the North, but here we greatly 
prefer the small lima, and we have had them cooked side by side. In the 
South the small lima is certainly the better bean, as well as far more pro- 
ductive. Of the larger class, the Potato lima, now known as Dreer's lima, 
is far more productive in the South than the Large White lima, l)ut not as 
good quality as the Sewee. Five hundred pounds per acre of the following 
mixture will be sufficient for the lima beans on a fairly fertile loam: Acid 
phosphate, 1,000 pounds; cotton seed meal, 700 pounds; nitrate of soda, 100 
pounds; muriate of potash, 200 pounds, to make a ton of 2,000 pounds. 


The snap beans make a useful plant for growing on the side benches of 
the tomato house, and repeated crops can be produced during the winter. For 
this purpose we always plant the beans in six inch pots and fruit them in the 
same pots. We use our ordinary potting compost made rather light with sand. 
Two plants are allowed to stand in each pot, and the first planting is done 
about the time the tomato plants are taken in from outside. For this forcing 
crop we do not use the varieties commonly grown by market gardeners in the 
open ground, but varieties which have been used for forcing for generations. 
The earliest forcing bean is the one with pea green seeds, known as the Pride 
of the Frames, an English variety used there for frame culture in spring, and 
which could be grown here in the same way in early spring, whenever there is 
a vacancy in the frames, before it is safe to put the seeds in the open ground. 
This variety is an exceedingly dwarf and early sort. Planted at the same 
time with the old Yellow Six Weeks bean, we had in the same house beans 
fit to gather from this sort when the Yellow Six Weeks was fairly in bloom. 
Forced beans are tier! in bunches, like asparagus, and sold by the bunch. They 
need only careful attention to the heat of the house, which should never go 
below fiO degrees at night, and a moderate supply of water. As fast as the 
crop is gathered refill the pots with fresh soil and replant, so as to keep up a 

203 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

constant succession during the season. Bailey, in the Forcing Book, recom- 
mends an English variety of bean called Sion House, but we have never tried 
this sort, and cannot say from experience in what way it may excel the variety 
above given. The bunches of beans to which we have referred should each 
contain fifty pods, as that is the regulation size. A crop of beans can well 
be taken from the benches of the cucumber house while the vines are grow- 
ing and thus get something from space not in use. The proper temperature 
for the beans is about the same as for tomatoes, 60 to 65 degrees at night, and 
15 or more degrees higher in sunlight. One good picking is about all that 
can profitably be expected from forced beans. They like a good bottom heat, 
hence the side benches over the heating pipes and near the glass is the place 
for them. 


North and South, early and late, there is no crop of greater importance 
to the market gardener than the cabbage crop. From their bulky nature it 
was for years assumed that the cabbage crop was the one which the local 
gardeners would always have control of. But rapid and cheap transportation 
long ago settled this, and today the early cabbage crop is the leading crop of 
the gardeners of the South in the spring, as the late crop is in the North 
and in the mountain country of the South. The method of producing the 
early cabbage crop in the South is different from that pursued in the North. 
All the way from Baltimore southward, on the Atlantic coast, the plants for 
the early cabbage crop are set in November, on the south side of sharp ridges, 
formed by the plow, three feet apart. In the North, the plants are produced 
from seed sown about the same time as in the South, but when the Southern 
gardener is setting his plants in the field, the Northern gardener is setting his 
in cold frames to be protected by a sash during the winter, setting them so 
thickly that an ordinary 3x6 foot hotbed sash will cover 1,000 plants. The 
disaster that sometimes comes to the Southern gardener in the spring indi- 
cates that it would be wise for him to carry some over in this way, to cure 
losses that sometimes occur in the field. 

There is no crop, if we except cauliflower, that requires richer soil or 
heavier fertilization than the early cabbage crop. The preparation should, as 
with many other crops, begin the summer before setting. After some early 
crop is off sow the land in cow peas. Cut these for hay, and at once prepare 
the land by applying, after plowing, a ton per acre of the following mixture: 
Acid phosphate, 900 pounds; fish scrap or tankage, 800 pounds; nitrate of 
soda, 100 pounds, and muriate of potash, 200 pounds. Mix all these but the 
nitrate of soda for fall application, and reserve that to be applied in the early 
spring, as active growth begins. In the North, where the plants are wintered 
over in frames, the whole ton can be applied at once, and in that case a winter 
cover of rve should be sown after the peas or other legume have been mown 


204 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

for hay, to be plowed under in the early spring. One thing which our gar- 
deners have now learned from experience is that success with the cabbage 
crop depends on the pedigree of the seed sown, and on its being grown in the 
American climate. Seed produced in the moist climate of England will not 
head with any certainty in our sunny climate. There has been a great deal 
of talk of late years in regard to a Government seed control and the testing of 
all seeds sold. The only test of any value, however, is the test that all of our 
great seed houses now practice; testing them in the open ground under the 
same conditions with which the purchaser has to contend. A laboratory test 
of seeds tells only the percentage of them which will germinate, and gives no 
information in regard to the seed stock from which they came. Tn fact, it 
cannot even tell what variety they belong to. All gardeners know that the 
more we improve the character of our plants and develop their valuable quali- 
ties as table vegetables, and remove them from their natural wild condition, 
the lower will be germinating power. The wild plant, which is the survival 
of the strongest in the contest with other plants, has thrown all its strength 
into the production of strong seed for the perpetuation of its species, while 
the improved plant is not selected for its seed making power altogether, but 
for the production of characters valuable to mankind, and hence loses a great 
deal of the seed making vigor of the wild plant. So well is this fact known 
to skilled gardeners the man who understands the value of pedigree in a seed 
will prefer seeds of known origin with a low germinative power to those which 
are shown to have a far higher germination percentage but are of uncerttiin 
descent. This is particularly the case with our seed of early cabbages. While 
the imported seed may show in the laboratory a higher percentage of germi- 
nation, the wise gardener will take the American grown seed even if it shows 
but half the germination. Good germinative power is, of course, important to 
the grower, but good stock is the thing that gives the most valuable crop. 

The variety of cabbage used for the earliest crop in this country by our 
market gardeners North and South is the Early Wakefield, sometimes called 
the Early Jersey Wakefield from the fact that in New Jersey the American 
strain was first developed from the English Wakefield cabbage. The enter- 
prise of our seedsmen has caused several strains to be developed from the 
original Jersey Wakefield, which for a long time was not a well fixed type, 
and now nearly every one of the leading seed houses has its particular strain 
of Wakefield cabbage, any of which are great improvements on the original. 
In the South, a particular strain is know as the Charleston Wakefield. It is 
similar to the regular Early Wakefield, but is larger in size of head and a little 
later than the type form. In the early days of the Early Jersey Wakefield 
cabbage the conical form of head, which is regarded as the type, was very 

Cabbages — 205 

where the production of late cabbages is a troublesome and uncertain matter. 
Winter cabbages, coming in on land that has been heavily manured for some 
early crop, will not need as heavy manuring as the early crop ; still, it is im- 
portant that there should be no lack of plant food. We have found that 
half the quantity advised for the early crop will answer the needs of the fall 
crop, provided they are urged along by two or three dressings of nitrate of 
soda at the rate of 50 pounds per acre at each dressing. In the North, the 
seed for the late crop should be sown in March or April, in a fairly fertile 
soil, and the plants grown to a good size before setting in June and July. 
There is, in some parts of the country, an old notion among farmers that the 
cabbages should not be worked during the dog days, and the consequence is 
that we often see a lot of weedy, and starved cabbages that get so stunted that 
they head prematurely and never make fine cabbages. Clean, rapid culture is 
as essential to good cabbages as to any other crop, and the man who watches 
the moon or the dog star, will never get the crop his more intelligent neigh- 
bors do. Cabbage plants from the very start should never be allowed to get 
stunted in any way. 


In the States south of Virginia, the great difficulty in all the lower 
country has always been so great in getting good winter cabbages, that the 
people have finally settled down to the notion that none but the loose, open- 
headed collard is available to them. While it is true that a well blanched 
collard is not a ])ad winter vegetable, there is no reason why, with proper care, 
good, hard-headed cabbages may not be grown in the South. The chief rea- 
son for the general failure has arisen, we believe, from the fact that Southern 
gardeners have generally followed too closely Northern methods for the pro- 
duction of the plants, and have sown the seed too early to be carried through 
the long hot summers of the South. The drought of summer saps the vitality 
of the plants, and they succumb before the time they should be set for head- 
ing. Anywhere on the Atlantic sea])oard south of Virginia late cabbage seed 
should never be sown till the first of August. Usually we have abundant 
rains in August, but the important point in the production of the plants is 
that they shall never lack for moisture. Hence the seed should be sown in 
soil naturally moist and very fertile, or there should be some arrangement for 
supplying them with artificial irrigation. The object is to get large and 
strong, short-stemmed plants by the first of September, which is early enough 
to set the plants. Hence the seed should be sown rather thinly, or the plants 
transplanted in beds when very small, to give them more room to develop. 
The soil for the late crop must not be a dry and thirsty one. 

206 — (*i{()i' (Jhowing and Ciioi' Feeding 

largely mixed with jjlants that made round heads, and which were later. 
This mixture was a great annoyance to the gardener, as it caused the crop to 
hold the ground too long, and gave him fewer of the earliest ones which bring 
the best price. The selection of late years has been to separate the two types 
so that the round headed ones come in as summer, or succession, cabbages, fol- 
lowing up the early ones in a uniform type. There are other extra early 
cabbages of similar type to the Wakefield, with small heads and earlier even 
than the Wakefield. The best of these which we have tested is the Extra 
Early Pilot. 


While the first early cabbages should always be sown in the fall, whether 
they are to be wintered over in frames or set on ridges, we have found that 
the succession crop to follow these is always best sown either in boxes in the 
greenhouse or in hot beds in January, and hardened off in cold frames. Sown 
in the fall they are far more apt to disappoint the grower by running to seed 
in the spring than are the extra early sorts. The best method we have used 
with this class of cabbages is to sow the seed in the greenhouse in flats in 
January. As soon as the plants are large enough to handle, even before they 
have made anything but the seed leaves, we prepare other flats about three 
inches deep, by putting an inch of well rotted manure in the bottom, and 
then filling with good potting compost. The plants are transplanted into 
these about one and a half inches apart, and are kept in a cool greenhouse till 
they get started in the soil. We then place the flats in the cold frames, and 
protect them for a while with mats over the glass on cold nights, and later 
on give all the air practicable. They grow off rapidly and are ready to go 
into the field as early as the ground can be gotten into good condition. In 
the colder sections of the country, this plan is the best for the extra early crop 
as well, since the plants can be had of good size as early as it wdll be practica- 
Ifle to set them, and it is a great deal less trouble than wintering them over 
in cold frames. For a succession cabbage we use what is know^n as Summer 
cabbage. Succession, Improved Brunswick and Maule's Midsummer. 
Maule's Deep Head is a fine improvement on our old favorite, Fottler's Bruns- 
wick, and we are not sure but that it will take the first place as a succession 
cabbage for summer use. 


The late cabbage crop for winter use is a very Important one in the 
northern parts of the country and in the elevated mountain sections of the 
South, where the late cabbage crop has of late years become an important 
matter commercially, as a crop for shipping to the coast country of the South, 

Cabbages — 207 

i'or all through the growth of the crop a plentiful supplji of mois- 
ture is essential to success. With a moist and fertile soil and 
clean and rapid culture, it is easy, in the South to get fine cabbages 
to head about Christmas, and we never have any weather to stop the 
growth of the crop much before this date. Headed earlier they will not make 
large heads and will not keep in winter. Late sowing, rich, moist soil and 
clean culture will make good cabbages in the South, but for early fall cab- 
bages the Southern coast cities will still have to depend on the North and the 
mountain country of the South, In the fertilization of the cabbage crop, 
early or late, the important factors are nitrogen and phosphoric acid. Potash 
is of far less importance than these, though a fair percentage is needed. 

There are a great many varieties of winter cabbages offered by seedsmen 
under special names, but they all belong to the two classes of Drumhead or 
Flat Dutch, except the Savoys, which form a peculiar class to themselves. 
Of course the Southern, or Georgia collard, is a distinct species. It is the 
survival of the fittest in the South, as it can take care of itself and grow under 
conditions that would be destructive to the heading cabbages. JSTo Southern 
garden seems complete without the collard, for it is always ready to come in 
and fill a possible failure of the cabbage. Then, too, as we have said, it is by 
no means a mean vegetable when properly frosted and blanched in winter, 
and in many country districts of the South they have so long been accustomed 
to the absence of headed cabbages in winter that they assume that the collard 
is better. We began some years ago to make the effort to develop a good head- 
ing strain of the collard, and after a while we hope to be successful and to 
get a collard that will head as hard and as certainly as the cabbage, of which 
it is merely a variety. One of the newest winter cabbages is the Danish Ball 
Headed, which, under favorable conditions, makes the most solid head of any 
cabbage with which we are acquainted. Whether it will be suitable to South- 
ern conditions or not we are as yet unable to say. Our main dependence for 
many years past has been the Prize Flat Dutch, of which every seedsman 
offers his own particular strain. Of the Drumhead class the Prize Short 
Stemmed Drumhead, and the Stonemason are both excellent, and those who 
have grown Maule's Surehead claim that it is unsurpassed. Of the Savoys 
the Drumhead Savoy has always done best for us. The early Savoys are very 
uncertain in the South in our experience. 



Of all the crops grown by the market gardener the cauliflower is the 
one that calls for the highest skill and the heaviest fertilization. Good cauli- 
flower can only be grown in the richest of soils, and the effort to produce it on 
a thin, dry soil, even with the heaviest application of fertilizers, will usually 
result in failure. Gorged with food, on a moist and retentive soil, and well 
cultivated, it will reward the grower either North or South. The only differ- 
ence is that the Southern grower must be content with the early crop, while 
the Northern grower can produce the fall crop which the Southern man will 
uniformly fail to get, owing to the difficulty in carrying the plants through 
the hot weather. While on a suitable rich clay loam the gardener in the 
North can produce a good crop of cauliflowers with commercial fertilizers 
alone, if applied with a lavish hand, it is always better, where practicable, 
to have a fair supply of stable manure in addition, as a means for making 
more moisture in the soil and to supply the humus so valuable far this pur- 
pose. Twenty tons of stable manure plowed under for some early crop will 
make a good preparation for the cauliflower fall crop. For the direct prepar- 
ation for the cauliflowers a ton or more per acre of the fertilizer mixture ad- 
vised for early cabbages, should be well harrowed in before setting the plants, 
and after they start, several dressings of 50 to 100 pounds per acre of nitrate 
of soda will not be lost in the crop. The main point is to never allow them to 
aret the slightest check in their growth, for the result of such a check will be 
the production of small buttons instead of heads, 


In the far South the plants can be treated in the same way we do the 
early cabbages, by setting them in the fall, but north of Lower Georgia it is 
better to grow the crop in frames along with winter lettuce. These frames may 


Cauliflower — 309 

be covered with cotton cloth or glass, the glass being far better both for the 
lettuce and the cauliflowers. Our method of growing the winter crop is as 
follows, and we have been peculiarly successful in getting perfect crops of 
fine and solid heads. We sow the seed about the last week in September, 
in a very rich bed, and as soon as the plants are strong we set them in the 
frames, putting six plants to each three by six feet sash. The remaining 
space is then filled with Tennis Ball or Boston Market lettuce, which will 
come off late in December or early January. By that time the cauliflowers 
will begin to need all the room. We air them at all times when the weather 
is at or above the freezing point, slipping sashes entirely off in sunny weather, 
and covering only at night or when freezing threatens. By the middle of 
February the cauliflowers are crowding against the glass, and are finally hard- 
ened off and the glass removed to other frames to protect the tomato plants, 
early beets, etc., as the cauliflowers from that time on need no protection. 
If the plants have not been allowed to get any check from lack of moisture or 
lack of food during the winter, the crop will come off in April, at a time when 
they usually command a fair price. The crop is not so profitable as it once 
was, owing to the quantities that come from the far South, where they grow 
out side all winter, but it is still a fairly paying crop. The fall crop, as we 
have said, belongs to the Northern gardener, and when well grown is uni- 
formly a profitable crop. An abundance of food and plenty of moisture in 
the soil to dissolve it, together with the best of culture, are the requisites for 
a good crop of cauliflower if the seed stock is all right. In localities where 
cotton seed meal cannot be readily had we would replace it in the fertilizer 
advised for cabbages and cauliflowers, with an equivalent percentage of nitro- 
gen, in the form of dried blood or tankage, and would increase the amount 
of the acid phosphate to correspond. Where the acid phosphate is more costly 
than dissolved bone black or slag meal we would use either of these as a source 
for phosphoric acid, especially for the fall planted crop. 


Cauliflower seed is little grown in this country, as our climate makes it 
an extremely uncertain crop, at least on the Atlantic coast. Nearly all the 
seed used in this country comes from Denmark. Of late years, however, 
some growers in the far northwest, on Puget Sound, Washington, have been 
producing a fine article. We have tried the Puget Sound seed and seed 
obtained direct from Denmark, and the result of a single experiment was that 
the Puget Sound seed was the better, since the plants grown from every 
one made a head, though some were set in ridges in the fall like cabbages 

210 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

and some were grown in frames. The winter, fortunately, was a mild one, 
and the plants set outside were just as good as those set in frames, but a little 
later. The seed lists give a number of varieties, but there is only one strain 
that we have found worthy of attention in this country. This is the selection 
from the Dwarf Erfurt, known as Snowball. This does so uniformly well 
that we can see no reason for needing any other, especially for the South. 
Some of the later sorts may do well in the North, but for the South, the only 
cauliflower is the Snowball. 



The cultivation of garden corn (or sugar corn) is far more commonly 
practiced in the Northern States than in the South. There are two reasons 
for this. In the first place, little attention has been paid to the breeding of 
a sweet corn suited to the Southern climate, and the sweet corn from the 
North, like any corn Ijrought far from its origin, generally fails to make a 
satisfactory crop. In the second place, the white field corn grown in the 
South is a far sweeter article than the Northern field corn, and the people 
failing to g^t good corn from the Northern sweet corn seed, have generally 
fallen back on their home field sorts, usually planting for an early crop the 
early corn grown in the high mountain regions of the South. Northern sweet 
corn lacks stamina for enduring the Southern climate, and succumbs to heat 
and drought. Stowell's Evergreen and the Mammoth Sugar are about the 
only sorts that are moderately successful south of Virginia. A number of 
years ago we undertook to breed up a sweet corn that would meet our Southern 
conditions. In order to get more robustness of stalk, and stamina, we started 
with a cross of the Leaming, a Western field corn of yellow color, on the 
Mammoth Sugar, a wrinkled white corn. We selected the yellow field corn 
so that the cross could be identified by the color, and because the corn selected 
was an earlier variety than the Mammoth Sugar. After seven years of selec- 
tion of the yellow wrinkled grains, we finally got a variety well fixed in type 
and of fine quality, which would give us ears for the table by the middle of 
June. Being then compelled to move our plantation to a locality where 
we could no longer keep it free from other pollen, we made a wide distribution 
of the seed to farmers in all parts of the State and abandoned the effort fur- 
ther. Whether any of those to whom this corn was sent will preserve it in 
its purity or not we fear is doubtful. But we established the fact that by care 
and selection a sweet corn well suited to Southern conditions can be produced. 
The culture of sweet corn does not differ in any respect from that of field corn, 
and it is not necessary here to go into further detail in regard to its culture. 


212 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

But it does require higher cultivation and heavier fertilization than the 
field crop of grain. It is a more valuable crop, and will better repay the 
heavy manuring than the common field corn, on which, at usual prices I 
have often said that I could never make an application of a complete fertili- 
zer pay. Corn of all kinds needs nitrogen and potash as the most important 
constituents of a fertilizer mixture, and sweet corn needs richer soil and 
heavier fertilizing than the field crop ; and as it is commonly grown for table 
purposes it will pay to be liberal in the matter of manuring. It is just as 
fond of humus in the soil as the common corn is, and is at home on a turned 
sod of clover, or grass, or a pea stubble, as other corn is. As a fertilizer mix- 
ture for sweet corn on good truck land I would suggest the following: Acid 
phosphate, or bone black superphosphate, 900 pounds; cotton seed meal, or 
fish scrap, 600 pounds; nitrate of soda, 100 pounds; muriate of potash, 400 
pounds. On a good corn soil it will pay to use 500 pounds of this per acre, 
where the corn is grown for seed purposes or for selling green. 


These are numerous. The very early sorts are seldom of much value 
anywhere, and are only of use in small gardens. The earliest good sweet corn 
is the Crosby, while in small gardens the Cory and First of All may be 
useful in the North. The Black Mexican is a dark purplish grain corn, and 
very sweet. For the market garden, however, the standards are Maule's XX 
Sugar, Stowell's Evergreen and the Mammoth Sugar. The last two named 
will do very well in the South if the seed is selected there for a few years. 
Country Gentleman has also proven valuable in the South, and from it a 
very fine Southern sweet corn might be selected. But so long as the Southern 
people depend on buying sweet corn raised in the North they will never get 
a good corn for their climate. 


In no vegetable cultivated for the market has there been a greater advance 
in the methods used than in the celery crop. Formerly it was grown almost 
exclusively as a second crop in the smaller market gardens in the immediate 
vicinity of the larger cities, and it was assumed that this was a crop that 
would always be grown in this way. But the great development of the culture 
of early summer and autumn celery, in the peaty swamp lands at Kalamazoo, 
Michigan, first demonstrated the fact that the celery crop, too, could be shipped 
from a distance. As the conditions for its growth became better understood, 
it was found that for the late winter and early spring crop Florida and 
California had special advantages, and now the celery crop is kept in con- 
stant supply in all the cities from early summer till spring again, the supply 
being almost continuous throughout the year. People in the South have 
found out that it is useless for them to endeavor to grow the early celery, 
and those in the far North have also found that they cannot store and compete 
with the South" and the Pacific coast in the late winter and spring celery; each 
section, therefore, has its turn at the market, and the crop is usually a 
profitable one when well grown. 

The introduction of the self blanching varieties, while adding nothing to 
the real table value of the crop, has improved the appearance of the plants as 
table decorations, and has led to a new system of culture for the self blanch- 
ing sorts, by crowding them into beds thickly and avoiding the earthing 
process, which is essential to the production of the best and really crisp and 
palatable article. But as celery is very largely used for its decorative effect, 
these white but tough sorts have their place. 

While at Kalamazoo and other far northern points, celery may 1)e 
blanched by hilling in summer, in by far the larger part of the eastern section 
of the country this cannot be done, owing to the heat of late summer and early 
fall. The crop that interests most of our readers, North and South, is that 
which comes in with the roast turkey and cranberry sauce, and lasts through 
the greater part of the winter. 


214 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 


There are two general methods of ®ultivating celery. The first is that 
described by the late Peter Henderson, in his "Gardening for Profit." The 
publication of this book was the first intimation to many that the old practice 
of digging a deep trench in which to set the celery was no longer the practice 
of the men who had to make profit out of the crop. In getting the plants 
Mr. Henderson advised to sow the seeds in rows on a well prepared bed nine 
inches apart, then to tramp the rows with the foot, and cover half an inch by 
drawing the back of the rake lightly over the bed. This is to be done early 
in April in the latitude of New York. In our experience we have not suc- 
ceeded well with this plan. We have made the following modification. We 
sow about the last of April on a well fined bed of light and rich soil. Lines 
are drawn about ten inches apart across the bed, and not over quarter of an 
inch deep. We then sow the seed thinly in these marks, and beat down the 
surface of the bed with the back of the spade. Then at once we cover the 
whole bed with a layer of gunny cloth, such as grain sacks are made of. 
This prevents the drying of the surface, and the seed germinates much more 
readily. As soon as they are seen sprouting, the cloth is raised off them and 
suspended on stakes so as to still shade the bed somewhat, and as the plants 
advance in growth and form their green leaves the cover is entirely removed 
This sowing can best be done in an unused cold frame, after the sashes are 
stored away, as the cloth can -easily be stretched over the bed. Having the 
plants in such a frame there is the further advantage that we can give them 
the varying shade of a lath screen during the hot weather. As soon as the 
plants are large enough to handle they arc lifted and transplanted in the 
frame at about two inches apart each way, and the tap roots are shortened. 
We then make screens of building laths, tacked on a frame the size of the 
ordinary hotbed sash, about one inch apart, and place these over the bed. 
This gives an ever varying shade and sunshine, and prevents the rapid drying 
out of the soil after watering. Constant and regular watering is essential 
to success with the plants, and as they grow it is well to clip the tops at 
intervals, so as to make the plants stout and strong for their final transplan- 
ing. In the North, this will be for the fall and winter crop, from the middle 
of June to the end of July, and from Virginia southward, from the middle of 
August to the last of September. The first week in September is usually 
early enough in most Southern sections. In the far South, where success 
can be had in getting the seed started in August, good plants can be had for 
late planting to supply the demand for spring celery. But of late years, the 
Kalamazoo growers have made a specialty of growing late plants for Southern 

Celery — 315 

shipment, and, as a rule, it is safer for the Florida grower to buy his plants 
than to attempt to grow them in hot weather. The Northern plan, as de- 
tailed by Mr. Henderson, is to set the plants on land that has been heavily 
manured for some early crop, as a fresh addition of manure to the celery may 
do more harm than good. The plants are set on well prepared land in rows 
three feet apart and six inches apart in the rows, and the roots well firmed 
in planting, by tramping on each side of the row after setting. As the celery 
starts to grow the cultivator is run between the rows, and by the middle of 
August the plants are drawn close by hand and a little earth packed to them 
to keep them upright. ■ Later on the earth is plowed to the rows, and the 
banking then completed with the spade for the celery that is to be used in the 
fall ; very little banking being done to that for the winter, which is taken up 
and stored in trenches as deep as the celery is tall, and is gradually covered 
with hay or straw as the weather gets colder, so as to keep out the frost. 

From Baltimore southward a different plan is used by gardeners. I 
once asked ]\Ir. Henderson why he did not try our plan. He replied that he 
wished he could, but that their winters were entirely too cold to make it a 
success. The method is as follows. Selecting land, as in the North, that has 
been heavily manured for an early crop, we add some commercial fertilizer 
rich in potash, which the stable manure, which may have been used in the 
spring, lacked. The land is, of course, prepared, as well as possible. A line 
is tightly stretched along one side of the bed to be planted. A board is pre- 
pared one foot wide by six feet long, and the ends accurately squared. On 
each side of the board notches are cut six inches apart, beginning six inches 
from each end. The planter sets the end of the board square or per})endic- 
ular to the stretched line, and sets a plant at each notch on each side. The 
board is then moved another space and another row set, and this process is 
continued to the end of the bed. We then have a bed with rows crosswise 
a foot apart, and eleven plants in each row six inches apart. A space of eight 
feet is then left for earthing and another bed set in the same way, till the land 
is planted. Sometimes, when the beds are situated so that they can be irri- 
gated, a rim of earth is raised around the edge of the beds so that the water 
can flow all over and be retained on the lied only. The setting is done early 
in September, and a month later the plants will have begun to spread their 
leflves. They must then be "handled." For this purpose we use two pieces 
of twine with sharpened pegs tied to the ends. A peg is stuck at the end 
of a row, a turn is made around each plant in the row, and finally the peg 
in the other end of the string is stuck at the other end of the row. A second 
row is then treated in the same way, and earth is shoveled in between them. 
The whole bed is gone over in the same manner and then the earth is packed 

21 (J — Croi' Gkowing and Crop Feeding 

tightly to each plant liy hand. As the nights grow cool earthing is continued 
in the same manner, only that as each pair of rows is earthed the soil is drawn 
down level, and before loosening the strings a ridge of soil is laid between 
the rows and not pulled down, so as to keep the plants in narrow trenches 
nearly even with the tops, and thus induce them to draw up erect. At next 
earthing this ridge is pulled flat and another set up. While earthing up the 
rows the soil is carried up outside the ends of the rows six inches or more 
thick, so that when finally earthed up, the bed is six feet wide. The earthing 
is continued till late in December, and then, as far north as Baltimore, a 
thick layer of earth is placed over the whole and covered with straw or forest 
leaves, and corn stalks, for the winter. From North Carolina southward 
the final covering should be of pine leaves placed on thickly, with no earth 
cover on top ; which will generally have to be increased during the winter as 
the hardy celery never really stops growing here. Celery is the most labori- 
ous crop of the market gardener, but at the same time, when well grown and 
put in market in good shape, it is one of the most profitable. I should 
have said that the eight foot spaces between the beds must be kept well culti- 
vated and fine for shoveling. 


A practice has grown up in sections North, where the crop can be grown 
early in Summer, of placing boards on each side of the single rows, so that 
the celery is crowded for light and runs up tall and tender. This method is 
used only for early celery, since the boards would not be a sufficient protec- 
tion against the cold late in the season. The self blanching varieties are used 
for this crop more than others, and, in fact, the self blanching sorts are only 
fit for such treatment, as they are far inferior in quality to those kinds that 
are commonly grown and blanched by earthing. They make beautiful,- white 
stalks, but the quality is very inferior. 

While in the northern parts of the country celery is largely grown on 
black, peaty, marsh land, where it attains a fine size and appearance, in 
quality this celery is far inferior to that grown on a moist and fertile clay 
soil; being more pithy and hollow stalked. The finest quality of celery is 
that grown from a good strain of seed on a clay soil of good fertility, aifd 
irrigated, as needed, in dry weather. While it may not be so large and showy 
as the product of the marshes, it is far superior in solidity and crispness, qual- 
ities essential to a fine celery. 

In regard to the fertilizing of the celery crop the following from Bulle- 
tin No. 132 of the Cornell University J]xperiment Station will be of interest. 

Celery— 317 

The land on which the experiments were made was flat, muck land, or half 
wild meadow, broken up that year. It had never grown celery nor had it ever 
received any fertilizers. The results of a series of various applications is 
summarized as follows: "All the records show that wood ashes gave the best 
results, although a combination of nitrate of soda. South Carolina rock and 
sulphate of potash promises to do well. Muriate of potash excelled the sul- 
phate. Nitrate of soda, alone, gave poor results. The check plats, without 
fertilizers, were not worth the growing." 


We have said that where the celery crop follows a heavily fertilized early 
crop on a good moist soil, there is little need for further manuring. But cel- 
ery is especially fond of potassic manures and nitrogen. Hence if there has 
been any deficiency in the early manuring, there should be some commercial 
fertilizer applied. We would not use stable manure on the celery crop direct, 
because of its drying tendency in heavy applications. The following, used 
at rate of 1,000 pounds per acre, will be found well suited to the crop : Acid 
phosphate or dissolved bone black, 800 pounds; fish scrap or tankage, 800 
pounds ; muriate of potash, 400 pounds to make a ton. In all these formulas 
we give the component parts of a ton of 2,000 pounds. But of course the 
same ])roportions can be used in smaller quantities. The fertilizer should 
be applied at least a week before setting the plants, and should be well mixed 
with the soil by harrowing, as otherwise the caustic effects of the potash may 
injure the roots of the plants. Put the fertilizer broadcast, for either in rows 
or beds the plants will finally get it. The same fertilization will answer for 
the thick planting adopted with the self blanching sorts. 


Formerly the giant sorts were commonly planted, and they are preferred 
still, in the South, to some extent. But by far the finest quality is found' in 
the dwarf and half-dwarf varieties. Golden Heart or Golden 

Dwarf is the sort most generally popular. White Plume and 
Golden Self Blanching are the kinds generally used for self 
blanching. In the South the Giant Pascal is the most popular 
sort, and the Sandringham is also found to be excellent. The Boston growers 
use the dwarf sort known as the Boston Market, a very dwarf sort that makes 
a great many tender and crisp offshoots, and is a very good variety for bed 
culture. Pink celeries are sometimes praised as better than white, but the 
market does not care for them. 


Cucumbers are grown by the Southern market gardeners in gi-e&,t qaaii- 
titles for early shipment to the Northern markets. They are aloo very large- 
ly grown in the North by those who are not regular market gctrdeners, for the 
supply of the pickle factories late in the summer. Then there are large num- 
bers grown near all the large cities in hot houses in winter; of this culture 
we will have more to say in the proper place. It was I'ormerly thought essen- 
tial for all the cucurbitaceous plants, such as cucumbers, melons and squashes, 
that the hills should be prepared with a liberj^l deposit of stable manure or 
compost in the hills, and there is no doubt that where facilities exist for this 
compost it is still an excellent plan. But, in growing the early cucumber 
crop on a large scale and at a distance from a supply of stable manure, it has 
been found necessary to use artificial fertilizers. As the value of the crop de- 
pends on its earliness the artificial manures are better for forcing this early 

A mellow, sandy loam, neither wet nor too dry, is the best for the early 
crop. The soil should be plowed very early in the season, shallowly, to de- 
stroy the hardy weeds that may be appearing, or the crop may be made to 
follow the crop of early cabbages which have been heavily fertilized, l\y plant- 
ing hills in alternate rows. But a better crop can be grown by preparing the 
land especially for the cucumbers. In preparing the land for planting it is 
plowed in beds six feet wide, and a subsoil plow is run deeply in each dead 
furrow. The fertilizer is then applied in the dead furrows heavily, and a 
furrow is turned from each side so as to make a ridge (or list) over the ma- 
nure. We then flatten this list with a hand roller, and sow the seeds while 
the land is fresh. The first cultivation is to plow the land to the rows so 
that the rows of plants will stand on top the lands and the new dead furrows 
are in the middles. This is done after a good stand has been secured, and the 
earth is drawn to the plants, so as to have the roots deep in the moist soil. 
The plants should be thinned to about one foot apart in the row. Subsequent 
cultivation is with the small tooth cultivator till the vines are running so as 


Cucumbers — 319 

to stop further cultivation. The crop is always cut with a small piece of the 
stem attached, and the cucumbers are shipped in slatted crates. One thous- 
and husliels i)er acre of marketable cucumbers is a common crop with the 
gardeners of tlie South Atlantic coast, and the same method of culture is 
equally well adapted to the crop in any section, l)ut the planting season must 
follow the disappearance of frost from South northward, as the cucumber is 
a tender plant and must not be planted till the soil is warmed. 


The standard variety with the market gardener is the White Spine. 
Every enterprising seedsman has his special strain of this variety, and it 
has never been superseded as a variety for field culture, and is also grown 
to a large extent under glass. For the late crop, for pickles, in the North, 
some of the strains akin to the Long Green are used. The Perfected Jersey 
Pickle is one of the best of these. There are some small varieties that are 
earlier than the White Spine, but they are of no value to the truck farmer 
and only of use in the private garden for their earliness. The little prickly 
Gherkin is also grown to some extent for pickling. The late crop of pick- 
ling cucumbers belongs almost exclusively to the Northern gardener and 
farmer, since the late crop is rarely a success in the South, owing to the 
drought and the liorers. But in low, moist, liottom land they may be well 
grown even in the South. These pickles are planted in mid-summer, and 
commonly occupy land from which an early crop that was heavily manured 
has been removed, and no special manuring is given on such land. 


As this crop is fertilized, as noted, entirely in the furrow, the fertilizer 
need not be used heavier than 500 pounds per acre. Just as the plants ap- 
pear through the ground it has been our practice to keep them dusted with 
fine bone meal, to keep off the bugs. This also helps the growth of the 
plants. For a fertilizer mix acid phosphate, 900 pounds; fish scrap or tank- 
age, 700 pounds; nitrate of soda, 200 pounds; muriate of potash, 200 
pounds. In localities where the phosphate made from bone black, or the 
Thomas slag phosphate, can be had more cheaply than the acid phosphate 
made from the dissolved rock, they can be used in place of acid phosphate in 
any of the formulas, and fish scrap, a good article of tankage, or dried blood, 
may be used indiscriminately without any serious change in the nitrogen con- 
tent. Where cotton seed meal is used as a source of nitrogen it must be used 
in larger quantity. The tables appended in the back part of this book will 

220^Crop Geo-\vixg axd Crop Feeding 

show just what percentages of nitrogen and other ingredients are found in all 
of these things, and we will hereafter try to show how certain percentages may 
be made in the mixtures. 


In many works on gardening the advice is given to sow the seeds on in- 
verted sods, place them under glass and water them ; and then transplant to 
the field, sod and all. This may be made to answer where blue grass sods are 
plentiful, but it is at best a clumsy and inconvenient«plan, and in the South, 
where sod is mainly Bermuda grass, it is totally impracticable. The market 
gardener should always be provided with an abundance of frames and sashes, 
and with flower pots of various sizes. These pots can now be had by the 
thousand so cheaply it will not pay anyone to go to the trouble of cutting sods 
for starting his plants. The method we have used successfully to get an extra 
early start with cucumbers and muskmelons is to use pots of the four inch 
size. These are filled with the regular potting compost used in the culture of 
greenhouse plants, and the soil well settled in them to within an inch of the 
top. They are then packed in cold frames evenly and level, and seeds are 
scattered on the pots, three or four to a pot, and the same rich compost is 
sifted over the whole. 

This is done after hard frosts are over, and the cover of the glass sash 
will be sufficient protection. But some means should be at hand to cover 
the glass with a mat should an unexpectedly hard frost occur. The pots 
must not be allowed to suffer for water, and the plants should be thinned 
to two in a pot as the rough leaves appear. When the weather is settled and 
the ground warm they are easily knocked out of the pots, with balls entire, 
and set in the rows. We always set them a little deeper than they were in the 
pots and have had very great success in getting a perfect stand. We see 
at times all sorts of curious contrivances advised for the starting of plants, 
such as hollowing out turnips, cutting sods, and melting the tops and bottoms 
from tin cans. But the true gardener knows that none of these things are 
so good or so cheap as the regular flower pot. The four-inch size can now 
be had for about one cent each, and with care will last for many years, and 
are far cheaper and better than any of the troublesome substitutes advised. 
A gardener, like a farmer, should be a systematic and business-like man, and 
never a potterer or a piddler, spending more labor over a substitute than a 
real garden appliance would cost. Tin cans and hollowed turnips are on a 
par with the plant cloth which some gardeners think as good as glass on their 
frames. Good gardening calls for the best garden appliances, just as good 
farmingr calls for the best tools. 



This crop is grown to some extent in the far South, in Florida, as a crop 
to ship North, but is grown very little in the Middle South ; and again in the 
Northern market gardens it is rather largely grown. The gardener from the 
North, coming South, is surprised to find that in private gardens here it is 
rarely seen, and in the markets of the Southern cities is rarely called for. 
This is largely owing to the fact that, like the tomato, it is a more difficult 
crop to grow in the South than in the North, owing to the ravages of the 
blight, which is worse, if possible, on the egg plant than on the tomato. The 
egg plant is a very tender plant, and the methods used for the production of 
the tomato will hardly do for it, since any effort to harden off the plants in 
frames is sure to result in a stunted growth and comparative failure. Our 
practice is to sow the seeds about the last of February in a warm greenhouse 
or a hotbed under glass, and as soon as large enough to handle transplant to 
pots two and a half inches in size. As soon as the roots show around the 
balls in these pots they are transferred to four-inch pots and still kept in the 
house. Not until the ground is well warmed and vegetation active outside 
should they be transferred to the open ground. We have then found that no 
matter how much fertilizer may have been used on the land that a top dress- 
ing of stable manure as a mulch to the surface is always a great advantage, 
particularly if the land is a dry clay and inclined to bake. We set the plants 
three feet apart each way, and aim never to allow a crust to form on the sur- 
face. The plants need as close watching from the Colorado beetle as the 
potato plant. In fact, we think they are fonder of the egg plants than of the 
potatoes. Rather than use poison we prefer to pick the mature ])eetles and 
crush the orange colored masses of eggs on the under side of the leaves. If 
the crop is very early it will be a profitable one, but later the price goes too 
low for distant shipment. Many years ago in Northern Maryland, having an 
abundance of vacant frames after our tomatoes had been transplanted to the 
field, we set 600 sashes with two egg plants each, and kept the glass over them 


222 — Crop (Jkowing and Ckop FEEDiN(f 

at night till June. In the rich manured soil of the frames they grew 
astonishingly, and were ready for market before the Charleston crop was in> 
and brought, for the first, $4 per peach basket ; the largest price we ever got 
for egg plants. The gardener in the Upper South who is wise enough to in- 
vest largely in glass, can always compete on favorable terms with those south 
of him in the open ground. 


The standard variety of egg plant in all the market gardens Xorth and 
South is that generally known as the New York Improved. There are many 
strains of this. The Black Pekin is earlier, smaller and of fine quality. 
The Early Ijong Purple is the earliest of the older sorts, but not grown for 
market, as the market demands round sorts. We have grown this season, for 
the first time, a variety from Italy which seems to be a cross between the Black 
Pekin and Early Long Purple. It is of the same shape as the Long Purple, 
with the purplish foliage of the Black Pekin. It is very early and wonder- 
fully productive, and so far has resisted the blight which destroyed our New 
York Improved to a plant in the adjoining rows. Its small size and odd 
shape will be against it as a market sort, but in quality it is ahead of any- 
thing we have ever tried in the egg plant family. It is common to see as 
many as ten fruits on a plant ready to cut and many more forming. The 
fruits are inclined to grow crooked like a crookneck squash. What the name 
of this is we do not know, as the seed was sent us by number for trial from the 
division of the Agricultural Department for the introduction of new plants. 
We believe, at least for the family garden in the South it is a valuable 


It is useless to try to grow egg plants unless the soil is rich and heavily 
fertilized. They can be set on the land where the crop of early peas has been 
gathered and the vines plowed under. But as the pea crop does not need the 
heavy fertilization of other garden crops there should he an application of not 
less than 1,000 pounds per acre of the mixture advised for the cucumber crop, 
and, if possible, in the South at least, a further mulching of stable manure 
on the surface after or just before the plants are set. 



In all parts of the country. North and South, in the open ground and 
under glass, there is no crop that engages the attention of the skilled gardener 
more than the lettuce crop. This, of course, refers to the winter culture of 
the crop in frames in the South and in heated houses in the North. The 
outdoor crop, while an important one, is of far less profit and importance 
than that grown under protection. In Florida the crop is grown, all through' 
the cooler part of the year, outside, and as we advance up the coast we find 
lettuce engaging the attention of the winter gardener in frames, protected 
either by awnings of cotton cloth rolled up and down on rafters, or in the reg- 
ular cold frames with glass sashes. In the North acre after acre of steam and 
hot water heated houses is devoted to the winter production of the lettuce 
crop. And with all this production, there has never been a time when good 
head lettuce has failed to bring a good price during the cold months from 
November to April. 

The gardeners along the South Atlantic seaboard use cotton cloth almost 
exclusively for the production of winter and early spring lettuce. We have 
long tried to show them that this is a mistake, but the first cost of the glass 
is so heavy that they hesitate to undertake a large area in glass. The cloth 
covered frames cost $500 per acre, and the cloth has to be renewed every sec- 
ond year. If a heavy snow comes, the gardener with cloth covered frames is 
in a bad way, for the snow will slide on his bagging cloth and press down on 
the plants, and hence must be removed. As cold always follows a snowfall, 
he then has not sufficient protection from the cloth and his plants get dam- 
aged. With the glass sashes a snowfall is a protection against the cold that 
follows, as it can be left on the frames. Experienced growers have admitted 
to me that they could grow a third more and better lettuce in glass frames, 
but they hesitate to make the expenditure of $3,000 per acre for the glass 
when the crop is worth that much per acre annually under cloth, and would 


224 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

be worth more under glass. In fact, here in the Upper South, we can pro- 
duce in a simple cold frame, with mats for protection in unusual cold, as good 
lettuce in the dead of winter as the Northern gardener can get in his expen- 
sively constructed and heated greenhouse. The frames used in the South for 
the production of winter lettuce are made 12 feet wide and have a ridge pole 
running the length of frame, one-third the width, from the north side, so as 
to give a long slope to the south and a short one to the north. The canvas 
is sometimes on rollers, like awnings, and sometimes is merely stretched over 
the pole, and held in place by eyelets on hooks in the sides of the frame. Aside 
from the imperfect protection of the cloth there is the further disadvantage 
that the whole must be taken off to give the plants full sunlight, and in cold 
weather this cannot be done, and the plants get drawn in the partial shade; 
while under glass, when the weather is too cold to uncover, they are exposed 
to the full sunshine and grow sturdy and short stemmed and head far better. 
The frames for growing lettuce under glass are made about six feet wide, so 
as to admit a 3x6 foot sash. The back of the frame towards the north 
is made 18 inches high and the front 12 inches so as to give a slope to the 
sun. Some make the frames wider and have a ridge pole and a short wooden 
span to the north, but this makes the frames unhandy, and the lettuce under 
the wooden slopes is poor. The chief points to be observed in growing frame 
lettuce after the preparation of the soil of which we will speak, are to keep 
it as near 40 degrees Fahrenheit at night as possible and to give air in all 
sunny weather to prevent too high a temperature, which would result in a 
flabby growth and poor crop. At all times when the sun shines, and that is 
nearly all the time in the South, and the temperature is above 25 above zero, 
we admit some air, and when there is no frost we fully expose the plants, even 
at night. 


The best soil for the lettuce crop is a sandy loam. This inside the 
frames should have a heavy coat of black leaf mold from the forest screened to 
remove all coarse roots and trash, and spread three inches deep in the frames. 
The frame is then ready for the application of the fertilizer. As this should 
be used without stint and should have, on such a soil, a large percentage of 
potash, it should be applied at the rate of a ton and a half to two tons per acre 
of area enclosed, several weeks before setting the plants, so that the caustic 
effect of the potash may disappear. On a clay-loam soil the fertilization is 
better with a heavy application of well rotted stable manure and a lighter 
dressing of the phosphatic and potassic fertilizers. The wide awake gar- 

Lettuce — 335 

dener in the South will always plan for two crops during the winter, by re- 
planting as rapidly as the early (or Christmas) crop is out. For the first 
croj), to come off from the first of December to Christmas, seed of the Tennis 
Ball or Boston Market should be sown the last week in August, and will be 
ready for the frames a month later. These varieties can be planted six inches 
apart when the frame is occupied by lettuce alone, but when a crop of cauli- 
flower is also grown in the frames they will occupy the place of ten lettuce 
phmts and the sash will then hold 40 lettuce. Where the frames are to be 
used for a succession crop of lettuce it will not be practicable to grow the 
cauliflower and they must have room by themselves. But where practicable 
it is not best to replant the same frame in lettuce, as the second crop is apt to 
be more or less diseased. In fact, so much trouble has been had from this, 
that some of the largest growers now do not try to have an early winter crop, 
but plant entirely for the late winter and spring market, when the price is 
usually highest. But where practicable it will be found best to have extra 
frames for second crop of lettuce, and to leave cauliflower after the Christmas 
lettuce is cut, with only protection of mats or cloth in cold snaps, and to re- 
move the glass to the extra frames for the later lettuce. These frames being 
prepared at the same time as the first will have gotten well sweetened by frost, 
and will make the finest of crops. Seed for the late winter and spring crop 
is sown late in September, in a sheltered spot, and a little later it is well to 
mulch the plants lightly with strawy manure as a protection, though they will 
usually winter fairly well here, unprotected. At the same time it is well 
to sow some seed of the varieties that are not grown under protection, so as 
to have them to set later in the field along between the rows of early cabbage, 
to be cut in the spring before the cabbages need all the room. For this pur- 
pose there is no better lettuce than the Improved Hanson. For the late win- 
ter and spring crop in the frames we sow the Big Boston and the California 
Cream Butter lettuce. The Big Boston is commonly used for both crops 
by our market gardeners hefe, but for the Christmas crop we prefer the Bos- 
ton Market, as it heads compactly at an earlier period. 

The growing of lettuce under glass in the North differs from that in 
the South only in the place where the plants are set. There the crop is grown 
in wide, flat-roofed greenhouses, in which a night temperature of 40 to 45 
degi'ees is maintained, and free ventilation given in day time. The plants 
are set in well prepared compost on the benches of the houses, and require 
far more care and attention than the Soiithern frame crop, as the plants are 
more liable to disease and the attacks of aphides and other insects; but the 
crop is so generally profitable and the quality so fine that the area annuallv 
devoted to lettuce is rapidly increasing. Near Boston, where, in winter, the 

22(j— Crop Growing and Croi- Feeding 

growers are troubled with long, sunless spells, it has been found profitable 
to string arc lights over the houses for forcing the crop. This is a refinement 
in horticulture that few will imitate. The culture of frame lettuce will be 
more fully treated in chapter on cold frames. 


This is the crop that most farmers are more interested in than the forced 
crop. Anywhere from Virginia south lettuce plants can be safely wintered 
;)ver outside with slight protection of manure in the northward section. In 
the North, however, it is best to winter the plants over in frames, as ca])bage 
plants are there carried over. The market gardener, with his costly and 
fertile land will get the early outdoor crop from plants set between the cab- 
bages, and will have it out of the way before the cabbages need all the room. 
Otherwise the plants are set as soon as the ground can be worked in the 
spring, in well enriched soil, and make a good crop to be followed by some 
tender plants, which cannot be set till the ground is warm. 


Lettuce, like most foliage crops, needs an abundant supply of nitrogen, 
and also in the soil it prefers, a light, sandy loam, a large percentage of pot- 
ash with a fair proportion of phosphoric acid; though this is of less import- 
ance than the first two. Occupying the soil during the winter months, when 
there is not a great activity among nitrifying organisms, it is essential that 
the fertilizer be presented not only in lavish amount, but in a perfectly solu- 
ble form. Hence for frame lettuce we would make a mixture of acid phos- 
phate, 900 pounds; dried blood or fish scrap, 600 pounds; nitrate of soda, 100 
pounds, and muriate of potash, 400 pounds. The large percentage of potash 
renders it necessary, as we have said, that the fertilizer he applied some time 
before setting the plants, usually one month. But the nitrate of soda should 
])e reserved and not mixed with the other ingredients, but scattered between 
the rows after the plants begin to grow. The first frame crop set in the 
South in October, will need no protection till the later part of its growth, 
in late November and December, but the protection should be at hand for 
the first cold snap. 


The varieties used by the growers of winter lettuce are few. The mar- 
kets of the Eastern States demand a well headed lettuce, while in the West 
the curled and loose headed sorts are popular. For the fall crop we prefer 

Lettuce — 237 

the Boston Market, since it can be set twice as thick as the Big Boston, but 
for the late winter and spring crop the Boston jVfarket and California Cream 
Butter lettuce are superior, though they require a foot distance to the six or 
eight inches of the first named. 

For the open ground crop to l)e set in the fall in the south, or in frames 
for wintering over in the North, there is no lettuce equal to the' Improved 
Hanson. It is the largest^ and most solid heading of all lettuces, and can 
easily be grown to weigh ten pounds or more per head. For sowing in spring 
the Xew York and the Boston Fringed lettuce stand the heat better than 
others, but any lettuce will soon run to seed in warm weather, and late spring 
and sunmier lettuce is milky, bitter and of little value as compared with that 
grown in cool weather. There are long lists of varieties offered in the seed 
catalogues, but many are of little value to the market gardener. The best of 
the loose heading sorts is the Grand Rapids, which is popular in the West, 
but is little grown in the East. It makes very large bunches and is of fine 
quality, especially for decorative purposes. 

To persons of discriminating taste there is no doubt that the Grand 
Eapids lettuce is far superior in quality to the heading or cabbage sorts, and 
if once a community is educated to the using of the curled sorts they will 
sell in preference to' the cabbage varieties. But at present it will hardly 
pay the gardener in the eastern part of the country to try to educate people 
into taking what they are not accustomed to. If the crop is grown for any 
of the markets West, the Grand Eapids is the variety to grow, and perhaps 
after a while the Eastern cities may find out its superiority. In the mean- 
time, if you are growing lettuce for home use, we would advise the curled 
sorts as of greatly superior quality and beauty to the cabbage lettuces. 



What has heretofore been said in regard to the manurial requirements 
of the cucumber will apply equally well to the muskmelon crop. This crop 
prefers a soil of much heavier texture than the watermelon, and delights more 
in moist conditions in the soil. We plant muskmelons in hills six feet apart, 
and make wide holes where each hill is to be, using to fill these holes a com- 
post made of black earth from the woods and stable manure in equal parts, 
piled some months l)efore in a flat heap and frequently turned until com- 
pletely well mixed and homogeneous. Just before planting we scatter a small 
handful of any good complete fertilizer having a high percentage of nitrogen 
in it over this, and cover with soil before planting the seed. We use an 
abundance of seed, as it is an important matter to get a complete stand at 
once. As soon as the plants can be seen breaking through the soil we dust 
them over with fine raw bone dust, to keep oflP the striped beetles that prey 
upon them ; the bone dust is also a good fertilizer. When the rough leaves 
develop and danger from the bugs is past, we thin to two good plants in a 
hill, and cultivate flat and shallow with a cultivator till the vines get in the 
way, after which weeds are pulled from among them by hand. Some large 
market gardeners adopt a different plan and use commercial fertilizers entire- 
ly. They plant the melons between the rows of the early peas, running a fur- 
row down the middles, and applying a good dressing of high grade nitroge- 
nous fertilizer all along the furrow. Two furrows are lapped on the first one, 
making a slight ridge, which is flattened down and a shallow furrow, in 
which the seeds are scattered, is made on the flattened ridge. As they de- 
velop they are thinned to stand about two feet apart in the rows, and when the 
peas are oflp the vines are turned under and the melons cultivated. They 
are also planted between the rows of early snap beans and treated in a similar 
way. The variety mainly grown by the Southern truck growers is the small 
early sort known as Jenny Lind. This is early and of a size easily packed in 
crates for shipment, and is more largely grown here than any other. Of 


Melons— 229 

late yciii's there has been a great deal of interest in a variety known as the 
Jioeky Ford, from the hx-ality in Cohirado where it has been hirgely produced 
and shipped East. The high quality of the Kocky Ford melons caused them 
to bring fancy prices in the East, and many have tried the variety here. But 
it has been found that the Rock Ford is the same variety that has been 
long grown under the name of Netted Gem, and that it seems to be the soil 
and climate at Rocky Ford that has given them their fine quality. Why the 
difference should exist between the Netted Gem in one section or another re- 
mains to be determined, and several of the Experiment Stations are entering 
into the investigation of the effect of soil and climate on this variety. In 
p]urope there are a number of varieties of winter muskmelons grown. These 
mature late in the season, can be put away to ripen indoors and will keep 
till Christmas. For some reason these melons have never ])ecome popular 
in this country, but experiments are now being nuide with them, and it may 
be that there will be found some that suit our climate. 

For a home mixture for muskmelons we would suggest the following: 
Acid phosphate, 900 pounds; dried blood, 600 pounds; nitrate of soda, 100 
pounds, and sul])hate of potash, 400 pounds, to make a ton. Where the con- 
centrated fertilizer is used exclusively we would use 500 pounds per acre. 
As a dressing on hills of compost half this quantity wall be sufficient. At the 
last working of the crop it is a good practice to sow cow peas among the rows, 
as they quickly grow up and make some shade from the sun, and after the 
crop is oft' there will be a field of peas to turn into forage. 


The watermelon is very similar in its manurial requirements to the 
muskmelon, but if grown in well manured or fertilized hills it can be profit- 
ably grown on poor, sandy land that would not make a good crop of musk- 
melons. The same making of a rich bed of compost in the hills is practiced 
with the watermelon, but the hills are much further apart than those of the 
muskmelon. Ten by tw^elve feet is a good average distance to plant, and the 
sowing of peas between the rows is of more importance here than with the 
muskmelon, as the watermelon likes to hide in the shade and is damaged by 
the hot sun. The crop, like the muskmelon crop, can be grown with com- 
mercial fertilizers alone. One of the best watermelon crops we ever grew 
was on a sandy piece of bottom land where the soil was deep and moisture 
always in reach. This land was plowed in twelve foot lands early in the 
spring and the dead furrows well plowed out. A heavy dressing of the fer- 
tilizer given above was then scattered along the dead furrows. Two furrows 

230 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

were lapped on this, making a sharp ridge in the dead furrow. This ridge 
was flattened slightly and a shallow furrow made on it in which the seeds were 
sown. The crest of this bed was then quite below the level of the top of the 
intervening lands. As the seeds appeared to germinate the bone dust was ap- 
plied and when washed ofl' by rain, renewed. As the plants developed they 
were thinned to three feet apart and but one plant left in a place. The first 
working was to throw furrows to the row from each side, and this process 
was continued until, when the cultivation was done, the rows of plants stood 
on top the lands and the dead furrows were between them. In this way the 
roots were gotten down into the moist lower soil, and flourished as T have 
never seen them since; and the crop was as fine as ever seen. About 700 
pounds per acre of the fertilizer was used. This amount could not have 
safely been applied to sandy land at a greater elevation or on a dry hill, but 
on this soil, where moisture was always in reach, the fertilizer was completely 
dissolved and used by the crop. There are so many varieties of watermelons 
grown that it is hard to recommend the best. For growing for market and 
for long shipping, there is no variety equal to the round Kolb Gem. This 
is of fair quality and good appearance when cut, and has a tough rind that 
bears handling. But for home use and a near market it is far inferior to 
many others. Like a great many other things, the variety best adapted to 
shipping purposes is not of the best quality. In our experience we have 
found no watermelon that can equal in quality the Mclver Sugar melon. It 
grows to a large size, has a thin rind and teautiful scarlet flesh, which never 
cracks in wet weather, as most other varieties are apt to do, and in quality it 
leaves nothing to be desired. Next to the Mclver we would place the Jones, 
a very large, dark green melon of a round shape. It is a very productive 
sort and will make melons from 50 to 70 pounds weight, or even more. With 
these varieties we do not think either the market grower or the home gar- 
dener need look further, for they combine all that is needed in a watermelon. 



There is hardly any culinary vegetable more largely grown 
North and South than the onion, and there is no crop to the 
perfection of which the commercial fertilizers are better fitted, be- 
cause of the tendency of stable manure to introduce weed seeds, 
and there is no crop that must be kept more clear of weeds 
than the onion. "Clean as an onion bed," has grown into a maxim 
in culture. Our market gardeners grow onions very largely for bunching 
while green in the early spring, the main crop of onions ripened and sold in 
barrels are grown on lands especially adapted to the crop, and by farmers 
rather than gardeners. The methods for producing the crop are as various 
as the purposes for which it is grown. In Bermuda, and to some extent in 
Florida, the so-called Bermuda onion is grown by sowing the seed in the fall 
for the winter crop. Onions prefer a cool climate and a moist soil, and when 
grown in the South, they must be given the most favorable season in which 
to grow. Anywhere south of Virginia it would be perfectly feasible to sow 
onion seed in September for the early green crop in the spring. But we have 
found that our September weather is so uniformly dry that at that time 
getting a stand of onions from seed is very uncertain. Hence for this green 
crop we are compelled to resort to the use of sets. 


We use seed of the Queen onion for the growing Gi sets, since they are 
only used in the production of the green bunching crop, and we want a quick 
growing onion rather than a large one. Growers in the South, and even in 
the Middle States, have gotten so much in the habit of grow- 
ing their onions entirely from sets, that growers in many section 
in the Northern States, make the growing of sets an import- 


232 — Crop Growing and Chop Feeding 

ant crop, and we find on the market sets of all kinds, white, 
yellow and red. But the Southern grower is fast finding that he does 
not need sets, except for the production of the spring bunching crop, and for 
this purpose he wants a white set. After a number of experiments we have 
found that the Queen gives us the best results for this purpose. 

Since onion sets should be of small size, the thicker the seeds are sown 
the better. It is our practice here to sow seeds for sets the first of April, in 
rows, and so thickly that it will take about 60 pounds to sow an acre. Sown 
in this way they crowd each other and the product is a mass of bulbs about the 
size of small marbles, ripe here in early July. These are gathered and cured 
with the tops left on, for we find that they soon start to sprout when the tops 
are removed. Hence the tops are not taken off till we are ready to use or sell 
the sets. These sets are planted in September, as it is important that they 
get well started and a young bulb under way before cold weainei. 


We have long since found that while we can grow as fine onions from the 
black seed in the South the first season as can be grown elsewhere, and that 
for the purpose of growing a ripened crop the sets are practically worthless, 
we are compelled by the character of our autumn weather to use the sets for 
the early crop, which goes North late in winter and early in spring. The 
onion is one of the few crops which are better fertilized in the hill than broad- 
cast, since the roots have a more limited range and are better nourished by 
having the fertilizer placed right below them. Therefore for this early crop 
we mark out furrows, early in September, two feet apart. In these furrows 
we scatter the fertilizer and then bed on the first furrow with two others, one 
from each .side, making a ridge over the fertilizer. This we flatten with a 
hand roller, and mark out a small furrow on the bed in which the sets are 
placed so that when the soil is pulled away in late winter the bulbs will be 
on the surface. We set them rather deep in the bed as a protection till hard 
frosts are over. As the crop is pulled and bunched when half grown, the sets 
can be placed two inches apart in the rows. We have said that for this early 
crop we use sets of the Queen onion. We have succeeded very well with the 
Bermuda onion in the same way, and the white potato onion, or IMultiplier, 
is being largely used for fall planting, as it stands the winter better than 
most other sorts and makes a short top. The fertilizer requirements of 
onions are mainly for nitrogen and potash. Analysis shows a very small 
percentage of phos]ihoric acid in the onion when compared with the other 

Onions — 333 

Another way to produce the early onion crop in the South is to sow the 
seed rather thickly in August on land that is naturally mellow and moist, 
and which is heavily fertilized with a fertilizer mixture containing a large 
percentage of potash, the formula for which is given under the proper head. 
This crop should be well cultivated through the fall, and it will be found that 
if the fall weather is favorable some of the onions will grow to quite a size, 
and these it is best to thin out and use for pickling onions. Hence the 
reason for rather thick sowing. As cold weather comes on the earth is drawn 
to each side the rows as a winter protection and to be removed as the weather 
warms in early March, to give the onions a chance to bulb on the surface. In 
cold latitudes the cold frame can be utilized for the fall onion crop. . 


When it comes to the growing of ripe onions for keeping and shipping 
there is no need for sets either North or South. It is simply a matter of 
earlier sowing and earlier ripening in the South. The onion prefers a moist 
soil abounding in humus, so that it can have uniformity of moisture during 
its growth. Hence reclaimed swamp lands are well suited to the crop and 
in many sections such reclaimed areas are being very largely devoted to the 
onion crop. At the same time, such soils are apt to be particularly deficient 
in the potash so essential to a good onion crop, and while the soil is apparent- 
ly very rich, the onion crop would fail to bulb well. It will not do to assume 
that any soil is rich enough to grow onions without any fertilizer. With a 
crop that varies so largely in quantity all the way from a few bushels per 
acre to over a thousand bushels, it is evident that the presence of a lavish 
supply of plant food in a readily available form is essential to the produc- 
tion of onions. A buried clover sod or a pea fallow in the South are favor- 
able places for the onion crop, if the soil is of the right mechanical make 
up. A mellow loam inclining rather to sand than clay is the best for the 
onion crop. The fertilizer is applied in the same Avay as advised for the fall 
planting of sets in the South. The beds are rolled nearly fiat, but we find 
that it is a great advantage to have the seed drilled a little above the general 
level, and in all garden crops that are grown from seed direct, we always make 
tliese beds rather than drill on the flat surface. It is easy then to start the 
horse cultivation at once, and while the use of hand cultivators may be eco- 
nomical on small areas or high priced land we have always found it more 
economical to fertilize in the furrow, and to work the crop as far as possible 
with the weeder and cultivator, the latter, a small tooth many toothed imple- 

234 — Cbop Growing *and Crop Feeding 

ment, throwing hardly any furrow, but working the surface clean and fine. 
The seed is drilled as early as the land can be gotten in good condition in 
the spring, here during the latter ipart of February, and later with the advanc- 
ing season, northward. The success of the crop depends on its having the 
longest part of the cool spring season for its growth. As in the case with 
sets, we have found that onions keep much better by being cured with the tops 
left on and stored in this way. We try to get them cured as rapidly as pos- 
sible, but not too much in the hot sunshine, and above all things take care 
that rain does not fall on them before being stored. We place them in flats 
in the hottest place we have under cover, up near the barn roof, and when 
well cured store them in a cooler place. If spread out thinly and not dis- 
turbed while frozen a little freezing will not do any harm, but we prefer to 
keep them just above the freezing point. 


We have tested a great many varieties of onions and while almost any of 
the sorts commonly grown in the North will keep very well, we have found that 
the best keepers to grow here in the South are the Southport White Globe 
and the New Opal. This last is a yellowish red onion introduced to our 
notice by Messrs. George Tait & Son, of Norfolk, Va., and it is the best keep- 
er out of 16 varieties tried at the same time. Any of the Italian onions will 
make large crops from the black seed, but as a rule they are poor keepers. 
Their earliness makes them desirable in the South as they can be sent to mar- 
ket before the Northern crop comes in. The same may be said of the Potato 
onion grown from fall planted sets. These, when allowed to ripen, are ready 
for sale earlier than any other ripe onions and usually bring good prices. 
But they must be disposed of at once as soon as ripe, as they will not keep 
long unsprouted. 


Of late years a new plan has been proposed for the growing of early 
and large onions. This is by sowing the seed under glass and transplanting 
the young onions to their permanent quarters as soon as the weather will 
permit. We tried this method of culture with a large number of varieties, 
and liave found that with the Bermuda, Spanish and Italian onions the 
method is a good one, l)ut that it is of no advantage with the sorts commonly 
grown from seed by the large onion growers in the North. We have found 
it a very good plan with the Bermuda onions in this climate to sow the seeds 

Onions — 235 

in a cold frame in January (a greenhouse would be the place in the North), 
and to transplant the young onions when the size of a goose quill, to the rows 
prepared for them outside. The variety best adapted to this method is the 
large, yellow onion known as the Prizetaker. This can be grown to a very 
large size by this method, much larger than by sowing the seed in the open 
ground without transplanting. We have also had fair success with some of 
the Italian sorts by merely transplanting the thinnings of the rows that were 
sown in the open ground. Sowing under glass and transplanting is also a 
good method of getting the Bermuda onions early in the season. In the far 
South some advise the sowing of Bermuda onions late in fall and transplant- 
ing them for the early crop. This may be successful in Florida if the sowing 
is done not earlier than late December. If sown earlier we have had reports 
that the onions seem to stop growing as the milder weather of spring comes 
on. and do not attain a good size. This is at least the report of a good 
grower there. 


We make only one ditference in the fertilization of the fall planted 
sets and the early spring crop, and this is that we use no nitrate of soda with 
the fall planted crop. Analysis of the crop shows that the demand of the 
onion as food is mainly for nitrogen and potash, and that phosphoric acid 
forms a very small part of what the onion removes from the soil. Hence 
the fertilizer for the onion crop should be rich mainly in nitrogen and potash, 
though the latter needs for its best effects that there be present a fair percent- 
age of phosphoric acid. For the fall crop we would use the following mix- 
ture : Acid phosphate, 800 pounds ; fish scrap, dried blood or cotton seed meal 
800 pounds; muriate of potash, 400 pounds, to make a ton. 

To the spring sown crop we would add a dressing of 50 pounds per acre 
of nitrate of soda as the plants start into vigorous growth. With the heavy 
application of not less than half a ton in the rows (and one and a half tons 
are profitably used broadcast when planted for hand culture) it is important 
that the fertilizer be placed in the rows and covered a week or more before the 
beds are rolled down and sown, as the large percentage of potash, while in a 
caustic condition, may have an injurious effect on the roots. 

The onion is one of the crops that seems to prefer to be kept annually on 
the same land, provided the heavy applications of plant food are continued 
annually. The clean culture required gets the land clear of weed seeds. But as 
the crop is off early in the season, some soil cover crop, such as the Southern 
cow pea or crimson clover, should be sown on the land to keep up the humus 

236 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

content and to prevent the loss of fertility. Where the crimson clover will 
succeed this is by far the best, as it grows during the winter. If cow peas are 
used, the land should be sown in rye as a winter cover after the peas are dead. 
Treated in this way, the onion crop can be profitably grown on the same 
ground annually with increasing yield. 

Six pounds of seed per acre are sown when the crop is in close rows for 
hand tools, but half that quantity will be an abundance when sown for horse 
culture. Tire 'sowing may be done in the North as late as the first of May, 
but from Virginia southward the crop will fail if sown later than March. 



These belong to the great family of legumes, of which we have already 
said so much. If sown on land that was manured the year before for garden 
crops there will be no need for any fertilization of the pea crop, but on most 
lands in the Southern market gardening section a light dressing of acid phos- 
phate will be an advantage. In the Southern trucking section the marrowfat 
])eas are sown in Xovember, and needing some support it is a common prac- 
tice to sow them alongside the rows of the dead cotton plants. These late 
peas are thus given a longer season to mature, as the extra early peas, which 
go to market first, are not sown till January and February. As to varieties, 
every seedsman has his speT^ial strain of the extra early peas, which are all 
really the same pea, the Daniel O'Rourks, which have been better rogued 
with than some others, perhaps, but all try to keep their special variety as 
pure and uniform as possible. Private gardeners with limited space, provide 
something for the peas to climb on, but the market gardener cannot afford 
this, and lets them tumble on the ground. In my home garden I use the 
narrow poultry wire, woven in large meshes, and find that this is not only the 
best but the cheapest way of supporting, not only the garden peas, Init the 
lima and other climbing beans. I have in use now, wire netting that has 
been used for this purpose annually for ten years and it loooks as though it 
may last twenty years longer, and even in its first cost it is cheaper than the 
time of men and teams to go into one's own forest and cut" brush. The little 
extra early peas are valuable for the market gardener, but while the fart that 
they give their whole crop at once is a valuable feature to him, it is not to the 
{irivate gardener, who wants peas that last longer and are of better quality. 
For home use we never plant any of the extra earlies, but are content to begin 
with tbe Premium Gem. which is of better quality and lasts longer. We 
follow these with the Yorkshire Hero, Stratagem, and the Champion of 




There is no crop grown by the farmer and gardener alike that is of more 
importance in all parts of the country than the potato crop. The farmer 
in the North makes it at times his main money crop, and the Southern mar- 
ket gardener finds it one of his great staples for shipment to the North in 
spring. Its manurial requirements therefore are of the greatest importance 
in all parts of the country. No crop has had its needs more studied at the 
Experiment Stations than the potato crop. Its peculiar liability to the at- 
tacks of fungus diseases and insects, has led to a great deal of study for pro- 
viding the farmer with the means for combatting these troubles, and the 
result of these investigations has been to develop methods for caring for the 
health of the crop which are practical and profitable. 


A mellow loam between a sandy and a clayey loam is doubtless the soil 
for the best success of the potato. It is important, too, that the soil be well 
stocked with decaying organic matter, and that it be rather in an acid than 
an alkaline condition; since it has been found that the fungus that causes 
the scabby appearance of the outside of the potato and thus decreases its 
marketalile value, will not thrive in acid conditions, and that while the ap- 
plication of lime to such a soil may cause an increase in the bulk of the crop, 
the sweetening of the soil will encourage the scab fungus and injure its mar- 
ket value. . Hard-wood ashes, having a large percentage of lime, will have a 
similar effect, and growers are rapidly learning that stable manure has the 
same effect, hence all large growers now confine the manuring of the potato 
crop to the artificial fertilizers. There is no crop grown for which the humus 
content in the soil is of more importance ; hence it is found that newly cleared 
land will give fine crops, and that on our old lands the best preparation of the 


Irish Potatoes — 339 

land for potatoes is to have legumes precede them. In the South this can 
be the cow pea the preceding summer and the hairy vetch in winter, the latter 
to be plowed undier for the potatoes. 


Analysis shows that the Irish potato consists of 79.75 per cent, of water, 
0.99 per cent, of ash or mineral matter, and it contains 0.31 per cent, of 
nitrogen, 0.07 per cent, of phosphoric acid and 0.29 per cent, of potash. 
Hence it is easy to see that nitrogen and especially potash play the most im- 
portant part in its growth. Where the crop is planted on a soil abounding 
in organic matter or humus, there will be little need for an artificial appli- 
cation of nitrogen, in the northern part of the country, where the. potato 
grows during the greater part of the season when the nitrification of this 
organic matter is most active. 

But in the South, where the crop is grown in the spring months and 
earliness is the great point to attain, a more liberal application of immediate- 
ly available nitrogen is important. In fact, the potato in the South is a mar- 
ket garden crop rather than a farm crop, as it is in the North, and as the 
value of this early crop is greater than that grown in the North, it will pay 
for more liberal fertilization than the farmer in the North usually gives. 
Any fertilizer mixture for the potato. North or South, must be high in its 
potash content, while but a moderate percentage of phosphoric acid is needed. 
The manufacturers make a great many names for their fertilizers and nearly 
every one of them has a special potato fertilizer, and nearly every one of them 
makes the phosphoric acid the leading constituent. In fact, if the farmer 
will take the trouble to examine the tables of analyses of commercial fertil- 
izers published by the various Experiment Stations, he will find that many 
of the so-called special fertilizers recommended for different crops are really 
the same thing, and are probably bagged out of the same pile, and the only 
difference between them is that one is called "special potato manure" and 
another is "special manure for cabbage," or some other crop. When farmers 
learn to buy fertilizers by the analysis and not by the trade brand, or, better 
still, learn that they can mix their own fertilizers better and cheaper than 
they can buy them, this humbug will have had its day. 


Where the potato crop is one of the regular crops in an improving rota- 
tion the rule that the application of commercial fertilizers should be to the 

240 — Ciioi' Growincj and Crop Feeding 

legume crop rather than the sale crop should prevail. With a proper rota- 
tion in which clover is hrought in frequently on the land, and the home-made 
manures are used on the corn crop, there will be a rapid increase in the humus 
content in the soil, and there will be no need for the purchase of any nitro- 
gen for the potato crop. For instance, suppose that the rotation is corn and 
potatoes in same field, wheat after both, with clover sown on the wheat. One 
year with clover and then the part that was in corn the previous round is put 
in potatoes, and the part that was in potatoes goes in corn. Each have part 
of the clover sod, but the corn is to get all the home-made manure, while the 
potatoes are to have the artificial fertilizers, if any are needed. We say, if 
any are needed, for we believe that it will be found most profitable to give the 
clover the acid phosphate and potash it needs, and to depend on the clover 
for the potatoes. Corn, as we have seen, also needs a good percentage of pot- 
ash and nitrogen. But we have also seen that corn, as a field crop, never pays 
the cost of purchased nitrogen, and I doubt if the potatoes will. But when 
the clover the preceding year gets a liberal dressing of acid phosphate and 
potash, it not only gives a heavier crop of forage, but makes the farm manure 
richer in these things, and there will usually be no need for the purchase 
of fertilizers for the potato or the corn crop. We would alternate the pota- 
toes and corn every three years, so that all the land will get, during the rota- 
tion, a dressing of the home-made manure ; and as this is detrimental to the 
health of the potato crop if applied directly, it is not so when it has become 
assimilated to the soil, and is simply organic matter like the clover that is 
decaying around them. In the beginning of the improvement of a worn 
soil it may l)e profitable to use some phosphoric acid and potash on the pota- 
toes, but if the proposed rotation is carried out we believe that the fertiliza- 
tion of the clover will be the better way to fertilize the potato crop. 

In this case there is no better application to the clover than 400 pounds 
per acre of a mixture of equal parts of acid phosphate and kainit. For the 
direct fertilization of the potato crop in the Xorth, where the crop follows 
clover, we would advise the mixture of 1,600 pounds of acid phosphate and 
400 pounds of high grade sulphate of potash to make a ton, and would use 
500 pounds of the mixture per acre; and put it all in the furrow under the 
potatoes, since the potato plant does not spread its roots far. The potato 
crop in the Xorth depends to a great extent for its quality and starchiness 
on the form in which the large percentage of potash is given it. Muriate 
of potash is cheaper than the sulphate, and will make the larger increase in 
the crop. But the quality will be inferior to that of the crop on which the 
sulphate is used, as the chlorides seem to have a tendency to make the potato 
more clammy. 

Irish Potatoes — 241 


It is not necessary in a work that deals mainly with the manurial re- 
quirements of crops to go at length into the familiar culture of the potato. 
Methods of culture will differ with the soil and climate, and a method per- 
fectly correct under one set of conditions, will be found wanting in some 
respect under different conditions of soil and climate. In the conditions 
present on most farms north of the Ohio and Potomac, and in the mountain 
regions of the South where similar climatic conditions prevail, we would al- 
ways practice rather deep planting and very shallow and constant cultivation ; 
never, in fact, "laying by" the crop till it is made. Assuming that farmers 
everywhere have abandoned the old plan of planting in hills, we would plant 
the sets fifteen inches apart in the furrow. Whether large or small potatoes 
are used as seed should depend not merely on the size of the tuber, but on the 
conditions under which it was produced. 

The potato is merely a bunch of stems under ground, surrounded by a 
mass of starchy matter, and the eyes are the terminal buds of the branches. 
Xow if these tubers have been produced under conditions that did not favor 
the increase of the mass of starchy matter, and the small tubers are the best 
of the crop, they will make good seed. But if the small tubers are merely 
the immature little ones from a crop where there were very large and fine pota- 
toes, they are small from lack of vigor in that particular branch and will in- 
herit weakness of growth. But in selecting seed potatoes in the field I 
would rather take the small potatoes from a hill that made a great many 
than the large potatoes from a hill that made but two or three. Years ago, 
while digging potatoes, I found in a row of fine, large potatoes, one plant that 
made no large ones, but had, by actual count, 44 potatoes not larger than a 
walnut in the largest, and some still smaller. Here was evidently what gar- 
deners call a "sport," or variation from the normal. The variety was the 
Beauty of Hebron, a potato which, in our experience, makes large potatoes, 
but not usually many in a hill. I saved the prolific hill and the next year 
it made potatoes about as large as the normal type, but far more in a hill, 
and, of course, a larger crop, and for years after I found this a superior strain 
of the Hebron. So it may be that small potatoes may be the starting point 
for an improvement. 

But whether the potatoes are large or small, we cannot believe that small 
pieces are as good to plant as large ones. The starch in the tuber is put there 
by the plant for the sustenance of the young plant till it makes green leaves 
in the sunlight and is able to store its own starch. As the potato sprouts, 
the starch is changed into glucose for the food of the living matter. Pota- 

242 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

toes that sprout in the cellar become clammy and sweetish to the taste be- 
cause of this change; the sprouts use up part of the stored food, and the pota- 
to is weakened by the sprouting. We want for planting a good piece with 
well developed eyes and a store of food that has not been deteriorated by 
sprouting in the cellar. More plants can be had from single-eye cuttings, but 
we are satisfied that continuous single-eye cutting will eventually lead to a 
weakened stock. The principal thing after the potatoes are planted is to 
keep the spring moisture in the ground, by constantly keeping a mulch of 
finely pulverized soil on the surface 'and never allowing a crust to form. 
This can best be done with the weeder, in the early stages of the growth of 
the crop, going both ways over the land before the tops appear and afterwards 
as long as the tops will admit, and then finishing with the small tooth culti- 
vator till the tops are mature. 


The planting and cultivation of the potato for early shipment from the 
Southern States to the Northern markets, is a very different matter from the 
production of the farm crop in the North. Here it is the crop of the market 
gardener rather than of the farmer. The crop has attained to great import- 
ance in the South Atlantic States and also in the Lower Mississippi Valley. 
Florida, of course, comes into the market first, and close behind the crop 
from Bermuda. Of late years the crop from the South Atlantic States, 
grown in the fall from seed potatoes of the early crop, which are now used 
entirely in these States for planting the first crop, are often lifted in Febru- 
ary and shipped North in barrels whitewashed in imitation of the Bermuda 
barrels, and sold as "New Bermudas," at a fine price, whenever there is a 
surplus over the local demand for the spring planting. Formerly the market 
gardeners of the South depended on Northern seed potatoes for the spring 
planting. But now it is the universal practice to plant the second crop seed 
of the previous year. 

It is found that these potatoes, dug in December and planted again in 
February, are entirely unsprouted, and they start to grow more slowly than 
the Northern potatoes that have been trying to sprout all winter, and are 
less liable to be caught by frost after they are up than the Northern seed; 
and also that they seem to be more resistant to frost when up. Starting with 
the full vigor of the terminal bud, they make a stronger plant than the 
Northern potatoes that have been long kept out of the ground and have had 
the terminal s])ronts rul)l)ed off, hence start with a bunch of lateral eyes. 
The early potato crop in the South is never sprouted before planting, as they 

Irish Potatofs — 243 

are planted so early that quick sprouting would be risky. The extent to 
which the culture has attained would astonish potato growers in the North, 
who, because they still supply the larger part of the winter table demand 
in the South, imagine that potatoes are not grown in the South to any extent 
But when they see single growers planting 700 barrels of seed potatoes it 
would seem that some potatoes are grown here. The early crop in the South 
needs different fertilization from that grown North. Planted at such an 
early period of the year and dug before hot weather begins, and before the 
nitrification is very active in the soil, there is a greater need for nitrogen and 
heavy fertilization to push the crop than there is in the North. Then, too, 
it is generally more valuable and the grower can afford to be more lavish 
with the feeding of the crop. 


The great need of the potato in the way of plant food is a complete fer- 
tilizer in which potash is a leading constituent. In some localities along the 
coast near the ports of entry, the growers have concluded that they can get 
the potash needed more cheaply from kainit than from the more concentrated 
potash salts, and they have adopted the practice to apply the potash needed 
by giving a heavy dressing of kainit to the land in the fall before the planting. 
They argue that in this way they get rid, during the winter rains, of the 
excess of chloride of sodium, and that in its leaching it renders available 
other forms of valuable plant food. But by far the greater number adhere to 
the application of potash in their fertilizer mixture in the form of muriate 
of potash at or just before the planting time. In some sections of the coun- 
try it is claimed that the sulphate of potash produces potatoes of a 
finer quality, and more starchy and dry. But the Southern grower finds that 
the muriate gives him the best crop, and as no one expects to find these early 
potatoes dry and starchy like the mature Northern crop, he prefers quantity 
to quality. 

One of the largest growers of early potatoes on the Atlantic coast uses 
the following mixture at the rate of one ton per acre: Fish scrap, 700 
pounds; sodium nitrate, 300 pounds; acid phosphate, 600 pounds; muriate 
of potash, 400 pounds This, it will be seen, is a very highly nitrogenous and 
potassic compound, and the growers of potatoes have been compelled to make 
their own mixture because none of the factory made articles have the amount 
of nitrogen or potash which they wish. The above would be five and one- 
half per cent, nitrogen, seven and two fifths per cent, of phosphoric acid and 
ten per cent, of potash, and it forms a typical Southern early potato fertilizer. 

244 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

This is spread by a machine made for the purpose, in and on both sides of 
the furrow made for planting, and is mixed with the soil by running a 
specially contrived narrow harrow in the rows before planting the potatoes. 
Since the roots of the potato ramble in a small space, the fertilization in 
the furrow is all sufficient, and the potatoes are simply covered in the fertil- 
izer as the furrows are thrown over them from each side. The growers 
watch the weather reports closely after the potatoes begin to show above 
ground, and when cold is predicted, the field will be filled with teams plowing 
the earth over the tops as a protection. In the spring of 189.4 there was a 
very disastrous frost late in March, after a long period of warm weather which 
had started the potatoes into a very strong growth. One of the largest grow- 
ers, who had 125 acres of potatoes growing, told the writer that he started 
thirty plows covering the potatoes in the morning. But at noon it seemed 
so much warmer he thought the weather man was in error and stopped the 
plows. He said that he lost $1,000 by doing so, as all unprotected tops were 
cut down the following night, and the potatoes thus cut down came on late 
and in competition with the Norfolk crop while the covered ones were ready 
to dig the last of May and brought $5 per barrel. He said that hereafter he 
would depend upon the warnings of the weather service. The cultivation of 
this early crop does not differ in any respect from the early crop elsewhere. 
They are worked with harrow and cultivator and are laid by with a furrow 
from each side. This ridge drying out and getting warm early hastens the 
maturity of the crop, and great crops are produced by the best growers, crops 
that would be considered immense in the best potato sections North. 


The seed potatoes in the South are always grown from the potatoes of the 
early crop. There is some variation in the methods used, but the general 
practice is to keep the potatoes, after digging, in a place where they will get 
greened by light and not direct sunshine, and then to cut small pieces off the 
ends and place them under cover of straw on the ground to sprout. The 
sprouted potatoes are planted in a deep furrow the middle of August, and 
covered rather lightly till the leaves show, and then the earth is gradually 
worked to them till perfectly level and is kept so. This crop seldom ma- 
tures fully, as the tops are finally cut by frost, though we have had them 
grow here unharmed till the first of December. They are dug early in 
December, buried in fhe field and covered with pine straw and earth till they 
are wanted, either for sale or planting. Many of them, as we have said, go 
to New York in February as new Bermuda potatoes, and bring $3 to $5 per 

Irish Potatoes — 245 

barrel. The practice is not a bad one, as the potatoes are really better than 
the real Bermudas. This second crop is usually planted where some early 
crop was heavily fertilized and no extra fertilization is given it, as the pota- 
toes are used mainly for seed and a very large size is not sought. 

In the mountain regions of the South the methods for growing late pota- 
toes as practiced northward are the rule, and much of the supply of table pota- 
toes for the Southern cities in winter comes from the mountains of North 


Many people in towns and villages, as well as some on the farm, like to 
have a small patch of early potatoes for the table planted in the garden. Old 
gardens are very poor places for potatoes unless they are carefully 
treated. It is quite commonly heard after experiments in potato culture in 
the home garden, "My garden is too rich for potatoes ; they all run to tops ;" 
and the fact that they have gigantic tops and quite small tubers is very ap- 
parent. Xow the soil produced these great tops, and the great tops failed to 
perform their duty — for it is the top that makes the potato — and here were 
surely tops enough to have made a large crop, while the fact is the crop is 
miserably small. Why is it thus? We have shown that the carbonaceous 
matter in plants comes from the air through the power which the green matter 
of the leaves has to decompose carbon di-oxide in the air — take the carbon and 
leave the oxygen. After taking the carbon, the plant in the leaf makes the 
carbohydrates out of the carbon, oxygen and hydrogen taken from air and 
soil. The first carbohydrate is probably some form of sugar for the im- 
mediate sustenance of the living matter of the plant, and when this want is 
supplied the plant forms starch as a storage form of food to keep for future 
use. But it is found that the plant will not make (or cannot make) the 
change from sugar to starch except in the presence of an abundant supply of 
potash, in proportion to the nitrogen and phosphoric acid present. The effect 
of nitrogen is to form a heavy growth of all parts of the plant, but especially 
of the foliage. This heavy foliage ought to assimilate more carbon and store 
more starch than a weaker growth, and it will do it if there is a proper pro- 
portion of the mineral elements present. The old garden soil has grown 
l)ig tops and small potatoes, not because it is too rich, but because it is too 
poor in phosphoric acid and potash. The soil has for years been manured 
with stable manure until there is an excess of nitrogen over the other ele- 
ments and tlic great growth is there, but it is a poorly balanced growth, and 
the foliage cannot perform its part in the construction of starch, although 
there is a great activity in all the vital functions of the plant and a very rapid 

246 — Crop Groaving and Crop Feeding 

growth of tops going on, but the resources of the plant are taxed to keep up 
this growth and there is no surplus to store in tubers. Hence, if you are 
trying to grow potatoes in an old garden, do not put more stable manure on 
the land, for that will only increase the trouble, but give it a heavy dressing 
of a mixture of four parts of acid phosphate to one part of muriate of potash. 
Use this at rate of 500 pounds per acre and you will find that your old garden 
soil is not too rich to grow potatoes. It is simply suffering from an ill bal- 
anced food ration, and there is nothing that will sooner renovate and restore an 
old garden than a use of commercial fertilizers on it for a time. The old 
garden which has been heavily manured with stable manure for generations, 
has gotten into the bad habit of running everything to tops, and the only 
way to get it out of this habit is to restore the balance in the soil food ele- 
ments. The commercial fertilizers will have a far Ijettor effect on such soil 
than they would on poor soil, because of the abundant supply of humus which 
the garden has acquired during the past years. This humus retains moisture 
and enables the soil to fully dissolve all the available food in the fertilizer, 
and the plants get the benefit of the a])plication far more certainly than they 
would have gotten it in a poor soil incapable of retaining so much moisture. 
The old garden is not too rich, it is simply unbalanced. 

varieties of potatoes. 

It is rather beyond the scope of this book to give detailed lists of varie- 
ties of the crops grown. There are so many fine sorts of Irish potatoes now 
offered by dealers that a list would simply confuse instead of enlighten. It 
is, however, curious to note that with the great increase of the introduction 
of new varieties, the market gardeners and the farmers to a great extent ad- 
here to the old favorites. In the South the Early Rose and Bliss's Triumph 
almost equally divide the attention of the market growers of early potatoes, 
the Bliss lieing the favorite in the Mississippi Valley and the Eose still tak- 
ing the lead on the Atlantic coast. A variety (or sport) of the Bliss's Tri- 
um])]i, known as White Skinned Triumph, has been produced, that some pre- 
fer as a more salable potato to the red skinned sort. Our enterprising seeds- 
men annually give us new potatoes, many of which are of surprising excel- 
lence, but it takes a long time for a new potato to become standard with the 
market growers. In Pennsylvania and for the far West the Burl)ank has ])e- 
come the standard potato for the main crop, and seems to satisfy the condi- 
tions where it has l)ecome so, until growers hardly think of any other. The 
Experiment Stations in some States give us the results of trials of long lists 
of varieties, while we are of the opinion that it would be far better to devote 
more attention to the development and improvement of the old sorts. 

Irish Potatoes — 247 

do potatoes run out? 

Undoubtedly under careless culture a variety may become, in a particu- 
lar place and with a particular grower, inferior in quality and productive- 
ness. But we cannot agree that a good variety of potato cannot be kept up 
to the standard and even improved by the proper selection of seed potatoes. 
Farmers have long discussed the question whether small potatoes are as good 
as large ones for planting, and many seem to forget that the potato tuber is 
not properly a seed at all, but an underground development of the stem of 
the plant. If a planter chooses a potato simply because it is large and rejects 
another simply because it is small, he shows that he has not studied the laws 
of plant life. Planting large potatoes for no other reason than size will 
probably result in the planter getting larger than if he planted small ones 
simply because they were small and hence unsalable. But he is making the 
same mistake that he would in selecting any plant merely for the size of the 
product; he may get size at the expense of other desirable characters in the 
plant. We want good sized potatoes of course, but we want large crops of 
good sized ones, and to get both we want the best developed plant for the 
purpose. Conditions may make the potatoes in a hill, the plant of which 
has the desirable character of vigor and productiveness, small. But these 
small ones have a tendency to inherit the productive character of the plant 
and would make valualjle seed stock for planting. On the other hand a large 
and handsome potato or two may be the entire crop on a plant with rather 
inferior character, and Avhich simply formed one or two potatoes. These 
would inherit a tendency to reproduce similar conditions. Hence in the sav- 
ing of potatoes for seed, the real student-farmer, who is ever on the lookout 
for desirable variations in the plants he grows, will study the growing plant ; 
Mild will go through and mark those having the sturdy and well developed 
plant he seeks to perpetuate. Then, at digging time, he will study the re- 
sults in each case, and will select from these the ones that have the greater 
num])er of desirable characters in the crop; those that make not only 
the greatest number of tubers Init the greatest number in proportion of 
marketal)le tubers. Thus year after year he will be devloping and perpetu- 
ating the most desirable characters. His potatoes will never "run out," 
while those of the man who always plants small potatoes l^ecause they are 
small and unsalalde and the man who always plants large ones simply be- 
cause of their size, may find a deterioration in the vigor and productive 
capacity of his plants and will conclude that potatoes run out. There is no 
doubt that the constant jdanting of culls will more rapidly run out the crop 
than the constant planting of only the large ones. 

248 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

The Southern grower of the second crop potatoes for seed to plant the 
following season will do well to make this selection from the early crop, and 
not do as many now do, plant only the refuse of the early crop. In the end 
such a course must finally lead to deterioration. Even now there are growers 
who say that they find it desirable to return to the Northern seed stock every 
five or six years. This would be entirely needless if the proper course of 
selection was made for the growing of the second crop seed potatoes. 


Bulletin 136 of the New Jersey Station gives the details of experiments 
with nitrogenous fertilizers on various crops. The experiments with the 
potato were to determine the relative effect of the three different and distinct 
forms of nitrogen, as well as the amounts of the same when applied to a light, 
sand soil, which lacked "condition" and was poor in respect to physical char- 
acter. It is well understood that the usefulness to the immediate crop of 
the best forms of the fertilizer constituents is modified by the character of the 
soil to which it is applied, that larger returns per unit of application may be 
expected from soils which have been well cultivated and are in good heart or 
condition than from soils that do not possess these characteristics. The soil 
was, however, well supplied with phosphoric acid and potash previous to 
planting the potatoes, the former derived from acid phosphate and bone and 
the latter from muriate of potash. 

Two experiments were included, each containing ten plats one-twentieth 
of an acre each, and the table shows the amount of nitrogenous fertilizers 
applied and the yields per acre of each individual experiment as well as the 
combined experiments, calculated on the basis of an acre. 

Without giving the detailed table here we will summarize from the bul- 
letin that none of the plats reached as much as 100 bushels per acre, though 
the relative increase in yield from the use of the different forms of nitrogen 
was quite considerable. The forms used were nitrate of soda, cotton seed meal 
and sulphate of ammonia in various amounts. There seemed to be little 
difference in the yield from variations in the amount used, the smaller quan- 
tity having been practically as efficient as the larger. With one exception 
the nitrate of soda was uniformly more effective than the other forms, the 
increased yield from the nitrate being on the average 84 per cent. ; from the 
sulphate of ammonia, 77 per cent., and from cotton seed meal, 38 per cent. 
The experiment, it is stated, is chiefly valuable in showing that in growing 
potatoes on such poor soils the first need is for physical improvement, rather 
than for large doses of the best forms of plant food. That is, they should be 
made more absorptive and retentive of moisture by the accumulation of 

Irish Potatoes — 249 

humus in the soil through the agency of legumes or the application of domes- 
tic manures, so that the applied nitrogenous materials may be more fully 

Bulletin 137 of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station says 
that the experiments made at that Station furnish strong evidence that the po- 
tato growers of* Long Island are annually wasting large quantities of valu- 
able fertilizing ingredients. Market gardening is there carried on in the most 
intensive manner, and the fertility of the somewhat poor soil is supplemented 
by the use of surprisingly large quantities of commercial fertilizers, an outlay 
of $20 per acre for plant food of this character being not uncommon. Potato 
growers frequently apply one ton of high grade superphosphate per acre, 
while in the Station experiments the most profitable result each year was ob- 
tained by the use of only half this quantity of fertilizer, and the residual or 
second year effect was practically the same with the 1,000 pounds as with the 
2,000 pounds. Heavier yields were obtained from the larger application, 
but the additional gain from the use of more than 1,000 pounds of fertilizer 
was at a greatly increased cost per bushel. We would note, however, that the 
soils at Geneva and those on Long Island are very different in their physical 
character, and the latter are far less retentive than the former. The plat on 
which no fertilizer was applied made 113.1 bushels per acre. An application 
of 500 pounds of fertilizer made an increase of 34.1 bushels of large potatoes, 
1,000 pounds made an increase of 69.1 bushels of large potatoes; 1,500 pounds 
made an increase of 77.5 bushels of large potatoes, and 2,000 pounds made 
78.7 bushels increase. It was found that the fertilizer formula based on the 
analysis of the potato, gave less results than the formula commonly used on 
Long Island, which contains 4 per cent, nitrogen, 8 per cent, phosphoric acid 
and 10 per cent, of potash in the form of a Muriate. 

The following table is given, showing the influence on the crop of the 
different fertilizers: 

Amount per acre. 


Station Formula. 
Yield per acre. 

L. I. Formula. 

Increase in 



L. I. Formula. 



113.1 bus. 
125.5 bus. 

166.2 bus. 
166.8 bus. 
178.4 bus. 




500 lbs 

38.3 bus. 

1000 lbs 

18.5 bus. 

1500 lbs 

22.7 bus. 

2000 lbs 

12.0 bus. 



159.2 bus. 



22.9 bus. 

The Long Island formula gave better results with each quantity of fertil- 
izer and produced an average of nearly 23 bushels per acre more than did 

250 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

the formula based on the composition of the tubers. The difference between 
the two fertilizers was strikingly shown by the appearance of the vines, for 
those upon the Long Island formula plats were one-fourth larger than those 
receiving the other formula, and in at least one instance the vines were of a 
darker green. The two fertilizers differed in the proportions of two ingredi- 
ents only, the Station formula being richer in nitrogen and poorer in phos- 
phoric acid than the Long Island formula, potash being the same in each. 
The variation in effect of the two combinations seemed greatest where the 
smaller quantities were applied, which may indicate either that the Station 
formula did not, in small quantities, furnish enough phosphoric acid, or 
that in large amount it contained an undesirable quantity of the nitrogen 
compounds. In either case, if future experiments substantiate the results 
of this trial, the claim that the composition of a crop should be the guide in 
mixing special fertilizers will be discredited. As the best form of potash 
the bulletin says that it has been thought, and has been supported by some 
experiments, that the liberal use of the muriate of potash tends to lower the 
percentage of starch and dry matter in the potato, therefore chemical analyses 
were made of tubers from each plat and' comparisons were made of those re- 
ceiving potash in the two forms of sulphate and muriate, in hope that light 
might be thrown on that question. Taking the average of 16 plats for each 
manner of treatment, it was found that where sulphate of potash had been 
used the potatoes produced more of both dry matter and starch than where 
muriate had been applied. But the significance of these results was utterly 
nullified by the fact that the tubers from the unfertilized plat adjacent to 
those differently fertilized differed in the same way, and to almost exactly the 
same extent, seeming to show that it was a natural difference in the soil of 
the plats rather than the kind of fertilizer used. The muriate in our own 
experience has always given the largest yield, and so far as table tests can go 
of fully as good quality as those grown with the sulphate, which is the more 
costly form. 

This fact is borne out by the results at the Cornell University Experi- 
ment Station, where an application of 200 pounds of muriate of potash and 
300 pounds of acid phosphate made 318.3 bushels per acre, and the same 
amount of fertilizer with the potash in the form of a sulphate made 310.5 
bushels per acre. On two otlier pints the difference was still greater, for the 
plat on which the same amount of muriate of potash was used made 3(j0.6 
bushels per acre w^hile the plat on which the sulphate was used made but 
333.5 bushels. Potatoes that were cultivated thirteen times made a smaller 
crop than those cultivated nine times, and it was evident that nine cultiva- 
tions will give the better crop in an average season. Still, as the bulletin 

Irish Potatoes — 251 

well states, the effects of good culture are very plain, for in spite of adverse 
conditions the crop was an excellent one. The average yield of potatoes 
per acre in the State of New York the same year was only from 50 to 65 
bushels per acre, while the average on the Station grounds was over 300 
bushels per acre, on soil not naturally more fertile than the average, and, 
in fact, showing by analysis a lower fertility than the average. In a subse- 
quent bulletin from the same Station it was found that six or seven cultiva- 
tions gave the best results, and that success with the potato crop depends 
largely on the preparation given the soil before the potatoes are planted. 
Plowing should be deep, and at the time of planting the soil should be mellow 
and loose, the crop planted early and deep and the cultivation frequent and 
level. Harrowing before the potatoes came up gave marked results. 

The Rhode Island Eperiment Station has done a great deal of work in 
the investigation of the effects of lime on soils. In regard to the growing of 
jiotatoes free from scab, the statement is made that on land in an acid con- 
dition and containing no lime, the potatoes may be grown practically free 
from scab, if only commercial fertilizers are used; that a gain in the crop 
may be made from an application of lime on such soils, but the prevalence 
of the scab is increased thereby. Wood ashes will also increase the amount 
of scabby potatoes. An application of the chloride of lime entirely prevented 
the scab, but injured the crop of potatoes. The sulphate of lime, commonly 
known as land plaster, is the only form of lime that was found not to injure 
the growth of the crop and at the same time did not favor the increase of the 
scab. Barnyard manure, owing to its alkalinity or the production of car- 
bonates from it, has probably in and of itself increased the scab. IJpon an 
acid soil, practical immunity from scab has been secured upon three successive 
crops l)y the use of fertilizers such as the ordinary commercial fertilizers, 
even when scabby tul)ers were used as seed and were not treated for the scab. 
On such soils the potatoes can be profitably produced by the use of commer- 
cial fertilizers. 

At the Ohio Station it is stated that superphosphate has increased the 
potato crop to a profitable extent, the cost of a bushel increase being but five 
to six cents. There was not found much difference in the efficiency of super- 
phosphate from the dissolved rock and from bone black, but slag phosphate 
gave lower results than the other forms. Wheat bran was a better fertilizer 
than linseed meal. Nitrate of soda and muriate of ]wtash, when used singly, 
have not given much increase. Superphosphate, nitrate of soda and muriate 
of potash in coml)ination have given better results than either alone, and the 
crop increase has been nearly in proportion to the quantity used up to 1,100 
pounds per acre. 

252 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

At the Maryland Station it was found that a complete fertilizer in which 
nitrate of soda and an organic form of nitrogen was used in connection with 
acid phosphate and sulphate of potash, gave the best results in the crop, mak- 
ing several bushels more than the same formula with muriate of potash used 
in place of the sulphate. 

At the Pennsylvania Station it was found that the use of nitrogen re- 
sulted in a profit of from $3.17 to $9.56 per acre, according to the combina- 
tion in which it was used. The use of phosphoric acid resulted in a gain of 
$7.72 per acre. The use of potash resulted in a gain of $17.39 per acre. The 
use of phosphoric acid and potash together produced a gain of $52.02 per 
acre, while a complete fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphoric acid and 
potash made a gain of $56.88 per acre. Nitrogen alone made a gain of $2.17 
per acre, showing a difference in the effect of an incomplete and complete 
fertilizer of $54.71 per acre. The conclusions arrived at were that on that 
soil potatoes especially needed potash, and to a somewhat less degree, phos- 
phoric acid. The effect of nitrogen being shown to be small, it would seem 
that instead of purchasing costly artificial supplies of nitrogen, if potatoes 
are to be grown extensively, it would be better policy to secure the needed sup- 
ply of nitrogen from the air by the cultivation of leguminous crops, either 
used as green manure or fed to animals, and to confine the purchase of arti- 
ficial fertilizers to phosphate and potash. It seems altogether probable that 
such a method of treatment would suffice to keep the supply of nitrogen in 
the soil up to a point at which purchased mineral fertilizers would yield their 
best returns. A very important point is the using of phosphoric acid and 
potash together, for in one experiment, while the phosphoric acid alone gave 
a gain of $7.72 per acre and potash alone $17.39 per- acre, when the two were 
combined they gave a profit of $51.02 per acre. In some other soils experi- 
ment has shown that while potash was as important as in these the next im- 
portant element was nitrogen, and this is usually the case in the early crop of 
potatoes grown in the South in the early spring. 

The Pennsylvania bulletin further states that it may be interesting to 
compare the amounts of nitrogen, phosphoric acid and potash applied in these 
experiments with those contained in the so-called "potato fertilizers" so large- 
ly offered by various fertilizer firms, the average of 47 samples of such fertil- 
izers analyzed in that State shows the following percentages: Nitrogen, 1.86 
per cent. ; total phosphoric acid, 11.16 per cent. ; potash, 5.55 per cent. Twelve 
hundred pounds per acre of a fertilizer of this composition would have con- 
tained the following amounts of these ingredients, as compared with those 
contained in the 1,200 pounds of mixed chemicals applied in these experi- 
ments : 

Irish Potatoes — 253 

Average potato fertilizer. 


Phosphoric acid 

22.3 lbs. 

133.9 lbs. 

66.6 lbs. 

Mixed ehemlcals. 

48 lbs. 

90 lbs. 

150 lbs. 

That is, the average potato fertilizer would have supplied only 44.4 per 
cent, as much potash as was used with profit in these trials, while it would 
have supplied 148.8 per cent, as much phosphoric acid and almost exactly 
half as much nitrogen. This shows that for some soils the usual potato fer- 
tilizers are not properly compounded, and makes it all the more evident that 
the farmer should test the needs of his soil by experiment. The bulletin 
well remarks that the conducting of an experiment involving only the use of 
eight small plats, and not necessarily continued more than a year or two, 
would be a small price to pay for knowledge which may save the unnecessary 
expenditure of large amounts of money for fertilizing ingredients already 
present in the soil in more than sufficient quantity. No farmer can afford 
to spend his hard-earned dollars to purchase fertilizing materials without 
knowing, first, that he receives the value of his money in a commercial sense, 
and second, that the material which he buys at a fair commercial price is the 
exact material needed for his soil and crop. 

At the Kentucky Station it was shown that an application of acid phos- 
phate alone made a smaller crop than on the the plat where no fertilizer was 
applied. Potash applied alone greatly increased the yield, as did nitrogen 
alone to some extent, but the best results were from nitrogen and notash 

At the Ohio Station a comparison was made between the second crop 
seed potatoes from the South and ]Maine potatoes. The potatoes from Maine 
and Wisconsin were considerably sprouted, while the second crop seed hardly 
showed any signs of sprouting. They were in excellent condition and of the 
best quality. The yield was slightly in favor of the Southern second crop 
seed except in the case of the Early Rose. The general average was a little 
in favor of the Northern seed, the average yield from the second crop seed 
being 170 bushels per acre and of the Northern seed 171 bushels per acre. 
In 1894 the average from the Southern seed was 105 bushels per acre and that 
from the Northern seed 102 bushels per acre. It seemed that for that lati- 
tude there may be no advantage in the Southern seed, provided the Northern 
seed is as well kept. 

In regard to the use of fertilizers on the potato crop this bulletin says: 
"In the use of fertilizers the lowest cost per bushel of increase in crop has 
been attained in the use of superphosphate alone, but the greatest gain per 

254 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

acre has been with 1,100 pounds per acre of fertilizer containing phosphoric 
acid, nitrogen and potash. Muriate of potash and nitrate of soda, when 
used alone, have not given a profitable increase, but have proved beneficial in 
connection witli superphosphate. * Phosphoric acid seems to have been the 
controlling element in an increase in the potato crop in all of our experi- 

This shows the importance of testing the needs of the soil experimental- 
ly, for, as we have seen in the Pennsylvania experiments, phosphoric acid had 
less effect than potash alone, and the same was found to be the case in. 
Kentucky. But in one co-operative experiment given in the Kentucky bulle- 
tin it was shown that on a soil different from that of the Station the same re- 
sults were had as detailed by the Ohio Station, showing a great variation in 
the manurial requirements of different soils, even in the same State. 

At the Texas Station it was found that potash, either as a muriate or sul- 
phate, produced a paying crop, and that bone black was the best one-sided fer- 
tilizer. In regard to the Southern second crop seed potatoes the Texas Sta- 
tion says: "So far as our experience goes, it seems safe to conclude that sec- 
ond crop potatoes are as good, if not better, for planting, than Northern 
grown seed." 



Our sweet potato is a memljer of the morning glory family and is not of 
the same family as the Irish potato. Unlike the Irish potato, too, it is a 
true root and not a tuber, though tuberous in form. The sweet potato de- 
lights in a warm, sandy soil, and will not reach its best condition in any 
other, though fair success can be had in heavier loams. Though differing in 
character from the Irish potato its manurial requirements are very similar. 
But as the plant grows through the long, hot season, when nitrification is 
active in the soil and is still further promoted by the rank cover of the vines, 
the crop needs far less nitrogenous manures than the early crop of Irish 
potatoes. In fact, any excess of nitrogen will lead to a rank development 
of tops at the expense of the roots, and while these rank vines are capable of 
storing large quantities of the starch and sugar so important in the tuberous 
roots, they cannot do this unless there is plenty of the mineral elements over 
and above that needed for the perfection of the top-growth. Hence phos- 
phoric acid and potash are far more important for the crop than nitrogen, 
and the slowly available organic matter is better than the immediately avail- 
able nitrogen of a nitrate. While on the northern limit of the culture of the 
sweet potato it may be desirable to use stable manure in its production, such 
would be rather a hindrance than a help in the South. The large market 
growers understand the requirements of the plant very well and they under- 
stand that the humus forming matter in the rakings of a pine forest are de- 
sirable as an application to the soil, not alone for their manurial effect but for 
the mechanical lightening of the soil and the retention of moisture. There- 
fore the skilled market grower of sweet potatoes uses the forest mold only, 
as the organic matter, and supplements it with liberal applications of the 
mineral elements. 


25G — Crop (Jkovving and Crop Feeding 


There is no doubt that the organic matter needed by the sweet potato 
could be more cheaply grown on the land by a crop of legumes than by the 
laborious raking up and hauling and spreading of the forest mold, and it 
is hoped that the growers will soon find out this fact. There need be no 
fear that there will be an excess of nitrogen, provided it is balanced by a 
liberal application of phosphoric acid and potash. It is not the amount of 
nitrogen that is harmful but the excess in proportion to the other constituents, 
and a very rank growth of vines may produce a fine crop of roots if the food 
is at hand which is needed for the storing of starch and sugar. It is the 
unbalanced ration in the soil that does the harm and not the amount of plant 
food present. We have explained that in discussing the garden culture of the 
Irish potato in which similar conditions exist. The rotation of crops and the 
growing of legumes is just as important to the vegetable grower as to the 
farmer, and in no way can he so economically stock his soil with the needed 
humus as by the growing of legumes between sale crops. 

But no matter whether we haul the rotten leaves from the forest or get 
the vegetable decay from a crop of pea vines, the getting of it in the soil in 
abundance is an important matter to the success of the sweet potato crop. 
Having this organic matter then there will be no need for the application of 
any nitrogenous fertilizer whatever, except in ISTorthern localities where the 
short season requires that the crop be hurried. In such cases the top dressing 
along the rows of nitrate of soda at rate of 35 pounds per acre at two applica- 
tions, will be the best. The general mixture for use in the Middle and South- 
ern States will then be: Acid phosphate, 1,600 pounds; sulphate of potash 
(high grade), 400 pounds. Five hundred pounds per acre of this mixture 
will be an abundant dressing for .the sweet potato crop. 


Sweet potatoes are always grown from plants sprouted in the spring 
from roots kept over for this purpose. That is, these plants are always used 
for the first planting in the South and for the entire planting in the North. 
The late crop in the South is produced from cuttings of the vines of the early 
planted crop. In the North it is the common practice to bed the potatoes 
in a hotbed under glass, and in the potato growing section of the Middle 
States fire-heated beds are often used. In the South the bedding is general- 
ly done in the open ground with a cover of straw to assist in keeping out cold. 
As the plants cannot be set in the open ground till it is settled and warm. 

Sweet Potatoes — 257 

it is useless to start the plants too early. There are few localities in the 
North where it will be available to set the plants before the last of May or the 
first of June. 

We have adopted a method of sprouting sweet potatoes which we prefer 
to any other. We use the ordinary cold frame, and place in it a layer of clean 
sand. On this we place the small potatoes just near enough not to touch. 
They are then covered with clean sand about two inches above the top of the 
potatoes. The sand is settled with a sprinkling of warm water, and the 
sashes are put on and kept close until the potatoes begin to sprout, when they 
are opened a little every sunny day to keep the temperature from getting 
too high. This bedding is done the last of March. We prefer the frame to 
the manure heated bed, as it is less provocative of fungus growths that dam- 
age the plants, and though the sprouts are rather slower in appearing they are 
stout and strong, and in the sand get well rooted, far better than if in a rich 
tjoil. If the potatoes are sound and free from disease there will be little dan- 
ger of "black shanked" plants, and they will be ready as early as it is safe to 
set them. 


A few days ago a gentleman from Georgia, seeing the low ridges on 
which my sweet potatoes were growing, was very much surprised. He said: 
"We throw up large beds with the plow and then go over them and pull them 
up higher with the hoe so as to have high beds to set the plants in." It is 
strange how long this useless practice has held its ground in the South, in- 
volving an unnecessary amount of labor and making a less valuable crop. 
The sweet potato is the one crop for which we always plow shallow, as we 
want a hard bottom right under the ridge in which they grow so that the 
potatoes will form short and stout rather than long and crooked. The upper 
four inches of the soil we prepare as thoroughly as possible, and then lay off 
furrows, three feet apart, in which the fertilizer is scattered. A furrow is 
thrown from each side with a single plow, so as to form a list over the first 
furrow. Just before planting the top of this ridge is flattened with a rake, 
leaving the ridges only about three inches high. Plants are carefully drawn 
from the bed so as not to disturb the potatoes, and are set at once with their 
roots in a bucket of water. They are set thus dripping, are placed so that 
only the tip of the shoot is above the ground, and the earth is pressed firmly 
to them. If the land is moderately moist this will be successful without 
any watering. If planted when the soil is very dry, it is better to pour a cup 
of water in each hole and at once drop the plant in and cover. Cultivation 

258— Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

with the small tooth cultivator is begun as soon as the plants get hold of the 
soil, and is kept up shallowly till the vines cover the ground. The last work- 
ing is after the vines get quite long. A hand goes ahead and throws the vines 
over into the adjoining space and the cotton sweep is used to throw a furrow 
to the row. Each alternate row is thus laid by and then the vines in the 
other rows are thrown over and the remaining rows earthed up. No hand 
work is done except to remove any grass or weeds that may appear in the 
rows. No effort is made to throw back the vines from the last working, as 
they can wander wherever they list. Some growers go through the field later 
in the season and pull the vines loose where they have rooted to the ground, 
but we do nothing of the sort as the labor in doing it is wasted. 


The sweet potatoes from the spring planting of sprouts make the earliest 
potatoes, but it has been found that those grown later in the season are more 
easily kept in winter than the spring planted ones. Hence all large growers 
produce the winter keeping crop from cuttings set in summer from the vines 
of the early crop. This late crop is grown for two purposes. First, for the 
production of a crop for table use in winter, and, secondly, a crop of small 
potatoes for bedding in the spring. For the table crop a piece of land is 
selected from which some early crop which was fairly well fertilized, has 
been taken off. Furrows are run three feet apart, and cuttings a foot long 
of the tips of vines are laid along the furrow slice 15 inches apart, and an- 
other furrow is thrown on them so as to cover all but the tip of the cutting. 
Men follow and tramp the earth to the cuttings and the work is done. If the 
ground is rather moist and the weather favorable nearly every cutting will 
grow and they are worked just as the first crop. This planting is done early 
in July. For the seed crop cuttings about a yard long are made in August 
Eidges are made as for spring planting, the planter coils the long cuttinf 
around one hand, and inserts the whole coil in the ground so as to leave only 
the tip exposed. A cluster of small potatoes will form at every covered joint, 
and these "slips," as they are called, make far better and more productive 
seed for the spring bedding than the cullings from the main crop. 


The crop always grows till frost cuts the vines. When the first light 
frost has blackened the leaves, lose no time in taking off the whole of the 
vines from the hills, even if you do not dig them at once, for the decaying 

Sweet Potataoes — 259 

vines, if left on, will soon affect the roots. Choose sunny and warm, dry 
weather for digging. Throw a furrow from each side with a small plow and 
then take the potatoes out carefully in whole bunches, with the forked hoe. 
Lay them carefully along the rows to dry in the sun, and on no account allow 
them to thrown in heaps, as that will be sure to bruise them. Gather in 
baskets and haul to where they are to be stored, handling at all times as care- 
fully as eggs. The storing is the most important thing in the keeping of 
the crop. 


This has always been the great difficulty North and South. Where the 
crop is grown on a large scale there should always be a building especially 
constructed for the purpose of wintering the crop. With such a building as 
we will hereafter describe the keeping in winter is comparatively easy and 
certain. Late in August, 1900, I met a gentleman in South Carolina to 
whom I had given directions for a potato house. He told me that the house 
had been a great success, and that he was then feeding hogs on sweet potatoes 
a year old, grown in the summer of 1899. The common practice in the 
South is to keep the potatoes in "banks," or hills. When well done, and the 
potatoes are carefully handled before storing, this may be done with very 
good chance for success. Our method of hilling is as follows. The banks 
are made, if possible, under a shed open to the south. If no such shelter is 
availal)le we make a shed at least to keep the rain off. A thick layer of pine 
straw, gathered in dry weather and kept dry, is laid on the ground, and the 
potatoes piled in conical heaps on this straw about 35 bushels in a pile. The 
piles are then thickly covered with the same dry pine leaves, and left till 
they go tlirough the "sweat," which they are certain to take when stored. 
After they have dried off and the weather is getting cool, we cover the heaps 
with earth lightly, and gradually increase the cover as the weather gets cold, 
till they have a foot of earth over them. As the shed keeps the rain off the 
dry earth wiU keep out any frost, and if the potatoes were free from disease 
and were carefully handled in storing they will usually keep well. 


A heated building for the keeping of sweet potatoes is by far the best 
method for their preservation. Such a house should not be over ten feet 
wide, and may be as long as needed, but it will be better not to make it over 
fifty feet long, if heated by one furnace. Height of the walls is a matter of 

2()0 — Cuop Growing and C'ltor -Feeding 

convenience. The side walls and the roof should be made double and packed 
with dry sawdust. Along the roof a ventilator should be made, which can be 
operated from one end with the same apparatus used in the ventilation of a 
greenhouse. Shelves should be made with slatted bottoms, on both sides of 
the house, four feet wide and far enough apart to store the potatoes a foot 
deep. In a shed at the north end build a brick furnace and take from it a 
brick flue straight through the middle of the house to a chimney at the 
further end. Planks can be laid above this flue as a walk in filling and to be 
removed before any firing is done. Put the potatoes carefully on the shelv- 
ing, and then start a fire in the furnace and run the temperature up to 90 
degrees until all the' sweat is dried off the potatoes, keeping the ventilator open 
slightly all the time to let off steam. When the potatoes are thoroughly dry, 
close the house and then only in very cold nights may there be any need for 
more fire heat. So long as the temperature can be kept up to 50 degrees 
there will be no need for fire heat, and if the walls are well deadened, in the 
South this will be easy. In such a house it is perfectly practicable to keep 
Eweet potatoes till the new crop of the following year is large enough for the 
table. The whole secret in keeping sweet potatoes is to handle them with care 
and then dry them off as completely as possible, then maintain a temperature 
of 50 degrees during the winter. 


There is a wide difference in the character of the sweet potatoes preferred 
by people in the North and in the South. Those who grow potatoes for the 
ISTorthern markets are compelled to grow potatoes which no Southerner will 
eat if he can help it. The Northern market demands a smooth, yellow potato, 
with very dry flesh, while the Southerner wants the sweeter sugary and jelly- 
like "yam." The Southern yam is not a true yam, but merely a sweet variety 
of the sweet potato. Tastes of people North and South have been largely 
formed by their different methods of cooking the roots. Noi^hern people 
steam or boil sweet potatoes, and the Southern yam is worthless for any such 
cooking, while the dry and chokey yellow potatoes sold North are well adapted 
to such a method. A yellow Nansemond, or "Yellow Bark," as they are called 
in the South, if cooked by baking as the Southern people always cook sweet 
potatoes is such a chokey article that it is difficult to eat, while the Southern 
yam steamed, will lose its sugary character and be a mass off mush. If the 
Northern users of sweet potatoes would cook the Southern potatoes as the 
Southern people cook them they would soon find that the dry Nansemonds are 

Sweet Potatoes — 2(il 

becoming tasteless to them as they are to the Southerner. When well ma- 
tured in winter tlie baked yam, with its jelly-like meat, is a delicious morsel, 
and far sweeter than any dry potato. But the market grower must consult 
the tastes of his patrons, and it will probably be a long time before there is 
a demand North for the vastly superior potatoes the Southern people eat at 


The most popular potato in the great cities of the North is doubtless the 
Yellow Nansemond, which is largely grown in New Jersey and Delaware, 
and a similar potato known in Virginia as the "Red Nose," which is largely 
grown in the Peninsula of Virginia for the Northern market. All potatoes 
of this class are known as "Yellow Barks" in the South, and are there grown 
only by those engaged in shipping North. In some sections of Virginia a 
large, light skinned potato with yellow flesh, known as the "Hayman" or 
"Southern Queen," is grown both for home use and Northern shipment. It 
is intermediate between the yams of the South and the yellow barks. This 
was brought to North Carolina many years ago by a sea captain named 
Hayman, from Brazil ; hence the name, Hayman. Years ago it got into the 
hands of a Northern seedsman, who introduced it as the "Southern Queen." 
It is one of the most productive of sweet potatoes, and is early and the easiest 
of all to keep in winter. Hence it is well adapted to Northern culture as it 
can be planted there late in June and make a crop. Of the distinctively 
Southern varieties the most popular are the "Pumpkin Yam" and "Norton 
Yam," with deep pumpkin colored flesh ; the Barbadoes in two varieties, white 
and yellow, and the Jewell yam, of a yellow color. There is a variety known as 
"Nigger Choker," which would suit the Northern taste. It is a deep, pur- 
plish red on the outside, but the flesh is pure white and very dry, and hence 
not popular in the South. The most productive of all sweet potatoes is the 
"Peabody." This grows to a very large size and is used in the South largely 
for hog feed, on account of its productiveness. It is too dry and lacks the 
sweetness which the Southern taste demands, and is only eaten here when 
partly grown, because it reaches a table size earlier than others and is salable 
till better potatoes are on the market. There are many other sorts in dif- 
ferent parts of the South, and a good deal has been said of late about the vine- 
less yam. The fact is that there are a number of vineless sweet potatoes, 
or sorts that do not make a running vine, and we have had several varieties 
to sport into this character among the ordinary sorts. We have failed to see 
any particular advantage in the vineless sweet potatoes. 

262 — Crop Growing Axnd Crop Feeding 

evaporating sweet potatoes. 

There is no vegetable grown that is so easily and rapidly dried as the 
sweet potato. Cut in slices and evaporated in any of the porta- 
ble evaporators, they can be kept in sacks in winter without dilH- 
culty, and can be made into a variety of dishes and puddings, 
after being soaked over night to restore them ; or they can be 
pulverized and used for the many nice dishes that the Southern house- 
wife knows so well how to prepare. We have often thought that if some one 
would go into the business of evaporating and pulverizing the sweet potato, 
and then pack them in neat papers, such as corn starch is packed in the North, 
a large and profitable trade could be established, especially if the packages 
gave the recipes for custards and pies and such things that the sweet potato 
makes so perfectly. There is a great opening in the South for the invest- 
ment of capital in such a business, for the potatoes can Ijc contracted for as 
cheaply as Irish potatoes are contracted for at the starch factories in Maine. 


The experiments at the Texas Station show that the sweet potato is just 
apt to produce large crops from snuill tul)ers, or rather tuberous roots, as 
from large ones. In fact, the small roots gave the largest yields. Cuttings 
of the vines set in June were usually smoother potatoes than those raised from 
the spring plants. They are also much less liable to disease, and hence are 
better for the seed for the following year. Early plants are set for the pur- 
pose of giving cuttings for the late crop. 

The Texas Station also gives the following results from the application 
of fertilizers to the sweet potato crop : 

Plat No. Yield bushels. 

1. Nitrate of soda, 460 lbs 128.3:5 

2. Muriate of potash, 150 lbs 146.47 

3. Bone black, 300 lbs 207.60 

4. Sulphate of potash, 200 lbs 20S.79 

5. No fertilizer 201.17 

6. Cotton seed meal, 500 lbs 194.67 

7. Barnyard manure and wood ashes, 20,000 ll)s 179.85 

8. Special sweet potato fertilizer, 600 lbs 222.50 

9. No fertilizer 219.71 

10. Nitrate of soda, 460 lbs., sulphate of ])otash, 200 lbs 166.87 

11. Nitrate of soda, 460 lbs, muriate of potash, 150 lbs 170.77 

Sweet Potatoes — 263 

12. Nitrate of soda, 4(50 lbs., bone black, ;}00 lbs 208.76 

13. Bone black, 300 lbs., sulphate of potash, 200 lbs 255.50 

14. Nitrate of soda, 460 lbs., bone black, 300 lbs., and sulphate of 

potash, 200 lbs 173.36 

15. No fertilizer 170.58 

16. Slaked lime, 4,360 lbs 250.14 

It will be seen that the best results were from potassic fertilizers and 
phosphoric acid. Muriate of potash lowered the yield, and nitrate of soda 
increased it but once. The special sweet potato fertilizer contained a large 
percentage of phosphoric acid. The analysis of this fertilizer was: Total 
phosphoric acid, 8.5 per cent.; potash, 1.93 per cent.; nitrogen, 0.80 per cent. 

From our own experience in the fertilization of the sweet potato we 
would say that this fertilizer was too low in potash for the best results, on the 
average sandy soil in which the sweet potato is grown in various parts of the 
country. It will be found that the sweet potato as grown in New Jersew 
will bear heavier applications of nitrogen than it will in the South. 



There is no vegetable crop grown that has so increased in popularity 
in the past forty years as the tomato. The writer can remember when in the 
markets in the city of Philadelphia but a few bushels could be sold on each 
market day, and canning was then unknown and few people ate the fruit at 
all. Now the use of the tomato has grown to enormous proportions, and 
where fifty years ago a peck would supply a market stall, it would take many 
bushels today. In many sections the crop has grown to the proportions of a 
farm crop and extensive fields are planted for the supply of the canning es- 
tablishments in all parts of the country. Starting in the winter in Cuba and 
South Florida, the tomato is a staple for the market gardener all up the 
coast to the most northern point where they can be ripened in the open air. 
And not only in the open air is the crop grown, but acres and acres of glass 
are devoted to the forcing of the crop in winter, when the superior quality 
of the forced fruit finds it a ready sale at prices far above that of the inferior 
product of Cuba and Florida. There is probably more capital invested in the 
cultivation of the tomato in the open ground and under glass than any other 
garden crop. Hence the varying conditions under which the crop is produced 
should have careful attention. From the tender nature of the plant and its 
tropical origin it might be supposed that it would be more successfully grown 
in the South than North; but, in fact, the reverse is true. The crop in the 
South is never so large per acre as in the Middle and Northern States. The 
plants are there subject to disease to a greater extent than in the North, and 
the early crop is generally suddenly cut short by the access of drought and 
extreme heat about mid-summer, so that while the South can produce an 
early crop, and can produce the forced winter crop more cheaply tlian the 
North, the general crop for canning purposes will probably be always mainly 
produced in the Middle States , East and West. While farmers in Maryland 
can grow the fruit on contract for the canning houses at $G per ton, the man 
in North Carolina who undertook to do the same thing (outside the mountain 


Tomatoes — 365 

country) would not make the cost of his plants. We write this to show that 
each section of the country has its particular season and crop from the 
tomato, and that climatic conditions which cannot be overcome, determine 
to what extent each shall grow the crop. Manurial requirements also vary in 
the different sections. The amount of manure and fertilizers that the crop 
absolutely requires in the South would be a disadvantage in its growth in the 
canning sections of Maryland. 


With the advancing season from Florida northward, the sowing of 
tomato seeds is done at different times. The Florida growers who depend 
mainly on the advantage of their climate, sow the seeds late in the fall and 
grow the crop during the winter, taking some risk of frost, of course. As we 
come up the coast, in sections where frost is certain and sometimes severe in 
winter, a different method must be used, and the only real difference in the 
plans of the gardener in the South and in the North is in the time when he 
sows his seed. In our experience there is nothing gained by sowing the seeds 
earlier than ten weeks before the time when they can safely be transplanted 
to the open ground. Every grower will know when this is in his locality, 
and can make his sowing accordingly. The seed can be sown, of course, in a 
manure heated hotbed under glass sashes, or in the far South in a cold frame, 
to be transplanted as soon as large enough to handle to other frames to develop 
size and to harden off for planting outside. But we find that when the 
facilities are at hand a greenhouse is the best place for the sowing of the seed, 
and every market gardener should have a greenhouse for the early starting 
of his plants of various kinds, since it is far less troublesome and far less 
risky than a hotbed. We find that here we can set properly hardened plants 
the first week in April, Hence we sow the seeds about the last of January 
in shallow l)oxes or flats in the greenhouse, where a night temperature of 
55 degrees is maintained. They are sown quite thickly, and as soon as large 
enough to handle and even before they have any but the seed leaves, we trans- 
plant them to other boxes about an inch and a half apart and set them down 
to near the seed leaf. As soon as they begin to crowd in these boxes, they are 
ngnin transplanted into other boxes about two and a half inches apart- By 
the time they crowd each other in these boxes it will be about the first of 
March, and then they are transplanted to the cold frames, are given four 
inches beween the plants, and are set quite deeply in the soil. If severe frost 
comes, the frames are protected by mats, but the plants are exposed to the air 
at every favorable time until finally the sashes arc left off at night and the 

2()()--('iu)i' UitowiNG AND Crop Fekding 

plants fully exposed a Aveek or more before finally transplanting. We find 
that the more frequently the plants are transplanted and the earlier they can 
be gotten out to stand, the earlier the crop. Tomato plants that are properly 
hardened off before transplanting will endure a slight frost without injury. 
Once, in Northern Maryland, we set 55,000 tomato plants in the open ground 
the last of April, which was a very early date for the latitude, above 39 de- 
grees. But the plants were large and stocky, and had been carefully hard- 
ened off in the frames. In the early part of ]\Iay we had a white frost that 
covered the plants. The stems turned blue-black, but they were not hurt, 
and the result of this risk was that I began to ship tomatoes the last week in 
June, or nearly three weeks ahead of the gardeners on the western side of the 
Bay in the same latitude, and for that time I had the Baltimore market for 
nearby tomatoes all to myself. Some years ago, here in North Carolina, we 
had an exceptionally warm ]\Iarch. All the earlier part of the month was 
characterized by hot, summer-like weather, and everything got to growing and 
the trees leaved out. Concluding that spring was here to stay, I set tomatoes 
March 17th. On the 35th the Weather Bureau reported frost coming 
severely that night. I went to work and bent each plant to the earth, covered 
it with hay and then piled a mound of soil on each plant. The next morn- 
ing the mercury stood at 31 degrees above zero, but the sun soon warmed 
things up. The following night there was a light frost and the next day 
I uncovered my tomatoes and found them all unhurt, and the crop was a very 
early one. Setting as early as the first week in April we run some risk of 
frost, but it is far better to stand ready to shovel the earth over them than 
to keep them inside longer. The same plan can be made available in the 
North at a later period, and gardeners everywhere will find it a great advant- 
age to get the plants in the open ground early, provided they have been well 
hardened in the frames where they were spotted out. The skill of the gar- 
dener is shown in getting ahead of the growers around him and getting near- 
by tomatoes on the market in competition with the inferior fruit shipped 
from the South. 


From the fact that the tomato in old and rich gardens sometimes grows 
so rankly as to be an inconvenience, and noting tlie occasional pro- 
ductiveness of volunteer plants that come in the corn field at times, there has 
grown up a notion that heavy manuring is a disadvantage to the tomato. An 
accurate study of the manurial requirements of the tomato plant at the 
various Experiment Stations has demonstrated the fact that special fertiliza- 

Tomatoes— 267 

tioii is of great value in the productiveness and the early maturity of the 
plant. Prof. Voorhees reeilcs the results at the New Jersey Station in the 
use of nitrate of soda as a special fertilizer for the tomatoes grown for the 
early crop, and that the results showed that when used at the rate of 160 
j)ounds per acre at one application, or 330 pounds per acre at two applications, 
it increased the yield materially and not at the expense of maturity, and this 
was also true when it was used in a complete fertilizer mixture, with phos- 
phoric acid and potash. But when the whole of the 320 pounds was applied 
at once with a sufficient proportion of phosphoric acid and potash, the yield 
was increased at the expense of early maturity. It was found that nitrate 
of soda was better than barnyard manure or mineral fertilizers alone, but 
when used alone was less effective than when a component part of a com- 
plete fertilizer. We have found, here, that the best fertilizer application for 
the tomato crop is made by mixing acid phosphate, 900 pounds; dried blood, 
600 pounds, nitrate of soda, 200 pounds, and high grade sulphate of potash, 
300 pounds, to make a ton. Of this we would use 700 pounds per acre 
broadcast before setting the plants. North of Virginia we would reduce 
this to 500 pounds per acre. When growth is well under way, and fruit is 
setting, we iind it an advantage here to give a further dressing of nitrate of 
soda at rate of 100 pounds per acre. On land that had been heavily manured 
the previous year for garden crops, or on which a crop of legumes had been 
grown the previous season, we would reduce the amount of the dried blood 
and increase the amount of acid phosphate proportionately, or would substi- 
tute cotton seed meal for the dried blood. A light, mellow loam inclined to 
sand is the best soil for the early tomato crop, and it is useless to try to grow 
it on a heavy clay or a cold and poor soil. 

As to the source of the plant foods used, the nitrate of soda and the dried 
l)lood we prefer as the sources of nitrogen, and we think it an error to depend 
on nitrate alone for this crop if a continuous growth and productiveness is 
desired. The phosphoric acid can«be supplied by superphosphate made from 
rock, or bone black, as may be most available in the locality, and the potash 
is best furnished by the sulphate free from chlorides. In any crop in which 
sweetness of the fruit is a desirable feature we have found the sulphate the 
best form in which to use potash. If it is desired to get the best use of the 
nitrate of soda it would probably be better to mix the other constituents and 
reserve this to be applied alongside the plants after setting. But the second 
application of the nitrate should be over the entire surface, since by that time 
the roots are running far and wide. Where stable manure is a1)undant and 
cheap we would greatly prefer here to plow under a heavy coat, mix it well 
with the soil, and then add simply the phosphoric acid and potash, with a 

268 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

light dressing of 50 pounds per acre of nitrate of soda at time of setting the 
plants, on the surface around them, but not in contact with the roots. No 
further dressing will be needed and for this climate this is far better than 
a heavy application of a complete commercial fertilizer. In old gardens that 
have been manured for years with stable manure, we would use no nitrogenous 
fertilizer whatever, but would use a good dressing of acid phosphate and 
potash, say 400 pounds of acid phosphate and 100 pounds of sulphate of 
potash per acre. 

We would note that in the South the organic forms of nitrogen in a 
tomato fertilizer are of far more importance than in the North. Otherwise, 
in the very hot weather we are apt to have in June, the plants will fail if no 
nitrogen but that from the nitrate is at hand. In the North the case seems 
different, and it is found undesirable to keep up too much growth rather than 
devote the whole energy of the plant to fruiting. 


This crop is produced for the canning establishments, and earliness is 
not an object. The plants are grown in beds in the open ground and trans- 
planted to the field when large enough, setting them in rows five feet apart 
and four feet in the rows. Cultivation is as for a crop of corn. The same 
fertilizer mixture advised for the early crop will do as well for the 
canning crop, but the second application of the nitrate of soda will not be 
needed nor profitable. On soil that will make a good crop of corn 500 pounds 
per acre of the mixture will be ample. We have found that for this summer 
crop a top dressing of stable manure lietwcen the rows is a great advantage 
in our dry and hot summers, as a mulch as well as plant food. Prof. Vor- 
hees shows that a good crop of ten tons of tomatoes per acre, with their vines, 
would contain 57 pounds of nitrogen, 16 pounds of phosphoric acid and 94 
pounds of potash. This shows very well Mie relative importance of the differ- 
ent food constituents, and that nitrogen and potash are the largest part of the 
food consumed by the tomato. 


While this work is not intended to take up plant diseases, which would 
take a volume for the proper treatment, we must, nevertheless, say a few 
words in regard to this terror of the Southern tomato grower. 
There is more than one blight which attacks the tomato, but the one 
known distinctively as the "Southern blight" is a bacterial growth in the tis- 

Tomatoes — 369 

sues of the plant, and the first intimation of its presence which the ordinary 
observer has is the sudden wilting of a large plant full of fruit. If the wilted 
plant is allowed to remain, the disease extends to others till the whole may 
be destroyed. It is the great bane of the Southern tomato grower, but unfor- 
tunately no sure preventive has as yet been discovered. A year ago we 
gave a piece of ground, where tomatoes had blighted badly the year before, 
a dressing of lime at the rate of about 30 bushels per acre, and set it again in 
tomatoes. There was little or no blight that season. This year we set the 
same plat in tomatoes without any further liming; every plant died from 
blight. So it would seem that whatever influence the lime had in the pre- 
vention of the blight was but temporary. Hence the only advice we can give 
is to avoid land where tomatoes, potatoes or watermelons have been lately 
grown; as all of them, with the egg plant, are subject to the same disease. 
The soil gets infected and any remedy that is to be effectual must deal with 
the soil. Fresh soil from the forest should be used for the growing of the 
plants for the infection doubtless takes place at an early stage of the growth 
of the plant. 


These are now so numerous that the inexperienced planter is often puz- 
zled to know what sorts will be best for him to plant. The tomato yields 
so readily to selection and breeding that the varieties do not long retain their 
original character. The names of old varieties are continued on the lists of 
seedsmen, but they are far from being the same as they were when first sent 
out. One man forms an ideal of what he wants in a tomato, and works at 
it till he gets nearly what he is after, and the tomato is put into commerce. 
Then other growers go to work to produce it for the trade, but they work on 
entirely different ideals from the originator, and the variety in the hands of 
one grower is still further improved, and under the treatment of another is al- 
lowed to deteriorate; but both are sold for the same thing year after year. 
The Trophy tomato, for which we paid to the late Col. Waring $5 for twenty 
seeds, is still on the seed lists, but it is no longer the Trophy of Col. Waring; 
some stocks have run back while others have been selected to an entirely differ- 
ent type. The earliest and most productive tomato we have ever grown is the 
variety known as Maule's Earliest. Its fault is lack of smoothness, especially 
in the earliest specimens. We are at work on this tomato, and hope to evolve 
from it a tomato with a smooth skin and still as early and prolific as the 
present type. Fordhook First is another very early tomato of a different 
type. Atlantic Prize is early but small and unproductive. Early Ruby is 

270 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

very early but is also, in our experience, rough and a poor cropper. For the 
main crop and for canning Livingston's Beauty, Matchless, Crimson Cush- 
ion, Stone and Queen are all good. 


There are few varieties well adapted for this purpose. The one known 
as Lorillard has been more generally used than any other. If we can suc- 
ceed in getting a smooth type of Maule's Earliest it will leave nothing to 
be desired in a forcing tomato. Dwarf Champion, while not usually recom- 
mended for forcing, has, with us, always beaten Lorillard, and we are in- 
clined to consider it one of the best. Tomatoes for forcing are sown about 
the last of August for the first crop. We sow the seed in the open ground and 
transplant them there once, to get them stocky. They are potted in four- 
inch pots late in September and transferred to a greenhouse where the night 
temperature is not over 55 degrees, if possible, at this season. They are kept 
close to the glass to keep them stocky. As soon as the balls are well covered 
by the roots, but before the plants got "pot bound" or stunted, they are trans- 
ferred to the fruiting pots. We always grow tomatoes in pots. Some use 
large wooden boxes for them, and some plant out on the benches in soil over 
the hot water pipes. If the crop is being grown commercially, and the house 
is a narrow lean-to constructed for the purpose, the planting should be on the 
benches in a bed of soil and the vines trained on wires in the same way we 
train grapes under glass. But in a span-roof greenhouse, where the glass is 
used later in the season for other purposes, the pots are far more conyenient 
and for the one crop fully as good. We transfer the plants from the four- 
inch pots to those of ten-inch size. Arranging for drainage at the bottom 
we place the plant near the bottom of the pot and fill around with soil merely 
to the height of the ball turned from the four-inch pot. Then, as soon as 
the white roots are seen running into the fresh soil, another inch of compost 
is added, and so on till the pot is filled enough. This gives the plant a very 
strong root system. When the pot is well filled with roots we give dilute 
manure water, or nitrate of soda one ounce to a two gallon can of water, week- 
ly. The plants are trained to a single stem and all side growths rigorously 
pinched out. When placed in the fruiting pots the plants are put into a 
house where it is possible to maintain 70 degrees at night, though 60 is about 
the usual average. As soon as the blossoms set we go over the house daily 
at noon and brush the pollen on the stigmas with a soft camel's hair brush. 
This is more rapidly done and is far more effective than any effort to collect 
pollen in a spoon, as some advise. The early crop should begin to ripen about 

Tomatoes — 271 

Christmas and will continue into March. If the house is to he used for toma- 
toes entirely, another crop should be coming on to take the place of those that 
are exhausted, and the seed for this is sown in early December, and will make 
a crop to follow on till tomatoes are ripe in the open garden. With the 
proper structures for the purpose the winter crop of tomatoes can be made a 
very profitable one, as we have sold them right alongside the Florida tomatoes 
for 25 cents per pound, when the Floridas were selling for one-fourth the 
money. The superior quality of tomatoes grown under glass attracts at- 
tention at once. 

There is no vegetable plant more generally forced than the tomato and 
none that has been more uniformly profitable when forced; nor is there any 
crop grown that so readily responds to commercial fertilizers. We have had 
a long experience in growing winter tomatoes and much prefer to use commer- 
cial fertilizers than stable manure for them. In fact, the only real failure 
we ever made w^as from using stable manure exclusively in our compost, and a 
licjuid manure of cow dung instead of- nitrate of soda. We got a tre- 
mendously rank growth but a very poor bloom and fruitage, and we have dis- 
carded numure in the culture of tomatoes under glass. If the potting ma- 
terial known as jadoo fibre was funished more cheaply we would prefer it 
to any soil mixture we have ever tried; but the commercial grower cannot 
afford to use it at the price charged. The best soil is made from sods from 
a mellow loam pasture, piled and rotted one summer in advance of use, and 
frequently turned till it is perfectly fine and homogeneous. We have always 
had better success with plants grown in ten or twelve-inch pots than with 
those planted out in beds. Wooden boxes may be sul)stituted for the pots 
if desired. We sow the seeds for the winter crop about the last of August, 
and as soon as large enough pot them into three-inch pots and set them in 
:: frame where they can be watered regularly. As they fill these ])ots they are 
transferred to four-inch pots and replaced in the frame. As the nights get 
cool we take the plants into the house and put them in their fruiting pots. 
In these pots we use plenty of broken crocks for drainage and cover the drain- 
age with moss to prevent the soil choking it. The large pots are only filled 
enough to cover the four-inch balls at first, and as the roots are seen on the 
surface of the soil another layer is added until finally the pot is sufficiently 
filled. In this way the roots get complete possession of the soil. I should 
have said that in this soil we use a liberal mixture of raw bone meal, which 
furnishes nitrogen and phosphoric acid in sufficient quantity to keep up a 
fair growth. As soon as the plants show bloom we go over them daily at noon 
and apply the pollen to the stigma of the blossoms with a cameFs hair brush. 
If this setting of the flowers is neglected there will be little perfect fruit. 

272 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

and what there is will be small and seedless, for under glass there are no in- 
sects to do this for us. As soon as the roots can be seen to have taken pos- 
session of the last layer of soil we begin to use liquid fertilizer, made by dis- 
solving one ounce of nitrate of soda in a two gallon can of water, and give 
this once a week. Do not begin this till you see that the roots have possession 
of the soil, for there is otherwise a tendency to sour the soil. The plants are 
kept trained to a single stem and two feet square is allowed to each plant. 
Daily attention is needed in pinching out the side shoots and keeping the 
plants to a single stem. Pinch these out as soon as seen, so that all the 
strength of growth will be thrown into the main stem. The stems are trained 
to strings or wires from the roof above. When the stems have reached the 
height of the house the ends are nipped and no further development allowed. 
In the meantime, about the middle of December, sow seed for a succession 
crop to replace these as the crop is gathered. These succession plants can be 
grown on the side benches of the house until they are ready to take their 
places in the fruiting pots. The tomato house should be kept during the fall 
and warm weather, well ventilated, and when the nights get frosty a little 
fire heat is given, so that the temperature does not go below 55 degrees. As 
the plants get into bloom the temperature of the house should never be allowed 
to go below 60 at night and should be kept, by ventilation, at 80 or less in day 
time. The tomato under glass is subject to the attacks of fungus diseases, 
the worst being the Cladosporium Fulvum, which attacks the leaves, begin- 
ning on the lower leaves, and if not checked will defoliate the entire house. 
We manage to keep clear of it by painting the hot water pipes at times with a 
solution of the sulphide of potassium, and by keeping sulphur scattered around 
under the leaves in the sun, so that it gradually evaporates in the air. These 
precautions should precede any attack, for if the fungus once gets started it 
is hard to stop. 

Some recent experiments have shown that when the tomato plants are 
planted in pure coal ashes and supplied with the proper fertilizers the result- 
ing crop has been better than when grown in the most carefully prepared 
compost. Whether this will be true in all cases or not we cannot say, but 
there seems to be a sort of affinity between coal ashes and tomato plants, for 
the most wonderfully prolific and long lived tomato plant we ever saw grew 
in an old heap of coal ashes, where it started as a volunteer and was allowed 
to remain. While coal ashes have little of what is classed as plant food in 
them they do certainly assist in the mellowing of the soil and the retention of 
moisture. We have greatly improved a piece of stiff clay soil by heavy dress- 
ings of coal ashes, and nowadays we never throw them away, but always find 
use for them. One of the most valuable uses for coal ashes is for plunging 

Tomatoes— 373 

plants ill pots in the cold frames. A bed of coal ashes makes the best place 
in wiiich to plunge pots to save watering and to protect them from frost. 
Pots set upon the ground soon get tilled with earth worms to the detriment 
of the plants, hut when set on coal ashes or plunged in them the worms have 
no chance, for they will hot crawl through the ashes. Then, too, there is no 
iiuhicement for the roots to run out through the hole in the bottom of the 
pots, as when they are placed on soil, and if any do get out they are easily 
removed from the ashes entire. Coal ashes applied to a sandy soil will nuike 
it more retentive of moisture and less inclined to be leachy. 


For the purpose of winter forcing tomatoes we prefer a full even-span 
house twenty feet wide, with a space in the centre for setting the boxes of pots, 
and benches on the sides that can be used for the forcing of beans or other 
dwarfer growing })lants, that need about the same temperature as the toma- 
toes ; or for bringing on the second crop for the replanting of the house. The 
bouse should be not less than ten feet to the ridge in the centre, the glass 
should have a slope of 45 degrees, and the house should run north and south 
so that both sides will have sun at different times of the day. A narrow lean- 
to house may be used and the plants set on the front bench and trained on 
wires under the glass, as we do grapes, but in this case the slope of glass 
should be to the south. In a very narrow house of this kind, with the glass 
a steep incline to the south, the crop may perhaps be earlier in setting and 
the house more easily heated than in the span-roof house, and the second 
croj) may be started against the back wall and get the sunlight after the front 
vines have been taken out ; but we greatly prefer the span-roof house. In 
such a house, with each plant trained to a single stem and allowed two feet 
square of space, there should be, during the winter, a crop of two pounds for 
every square foot of space in the house. The crop here usually commands 
25 cents per pound in winter, hence a house with 1,000 square feet of surface 
should ])roduce 2,000 pounds of fruit, worth $500. Whether such a crop 
will be profitable or not will depend on the cost of heating the house, and here 
the Southern forcer will have a great advantage over the grower in the colder 
sections, in the fact that he needs to use less coal and has far more sunlight 
in winter, and sunlight counts for far more under glass than does fire heat. 

It is probable that the best style of house, though we have never tried it 
for the tomato, would be that known generally as the Rose house, because it 
is the form generally adopted for the winter forcing of roses for cutting in 
winter. The shape of such a house is what is called three-quarters span ; that 

274 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

is, there is a high back wall and a low front one, a short slope of glass on the 
back and twice as long a slope in front. Then if the benches are made at 
different heights the plants can be brought to uniform distance from the 
glass and all have an equal chance at the sunlight. Prof. Bailey says that 
he prefers to grow tomatoes on the side benches in 7 or 8 inches of soil and on 
benches, too, in the centre of the house. Our objection to this would be that 
the tomatoes on the side benches would too much shade those in the centre. 

While in all the earlier stages of the growth of the plants the house 
should be kept moist, very great care is needed in the watering of the plants. 
We keep the walks damp at all times and water the pots only when needed, 
having no set time to do this, but varying with the state of the weather and 
the amount of sunshine. A slight thump on the side of a pot will tell if 
water is needed even when it looks moist on the surface. If the pot sounds 
hollow water should be given, if not, none. Moisture is maintained by water- 
ing the sand on the benches where the pots stand, and watering the walks, 
but sprinkling overhead on the plants is never done. Various plans have 
been proposed for the pollenation of the flowers, such as shaking off the 
pollen in a spoon or watch glass, but we have never succeeded in this, and find 
no difficulty in rapidly setting the flowers with a cameFs hair brush. Prof. 
Bailey says that all varieties of tomatoes are more inclined to be irregular 
in shape under glass than in the open ground. We have found the very re- 
verse of this to be the case. They always, for us, grew more smooth and per- 
fect under glass than out doors. Perhaps the difference is climatic and due 
to our abounding sunshine, even in the coldest weather. He, too, claims 
that the Dwarf Champion is the least satisfactory under glass, while here it 
has always been one of the best, while "the Lorillard, which is claimed in the 
North to be a special forcing variety, is an utter failure here every time it 
has been tried ; the poorest crop we have ever had was with this variety. 

Forced tomatoes are marketed in baskets similar to those used by the 
Florida shippers, and packed in what are known as Southern carriers. Each 
fruit should be wrapped in soft tissue paper, and the baskets lined with white 
paper, and with some clean excelsior shavings under the fruit to prevent 
jarring in transportation. 


Our own experience in the winter forcing of tomatoes has led us to prefer 
chemical fertilizers to sta])le manure. On this point we are glad to refer to 
the work done at the Connecticut Experiment Station as detailed in their 
report for the year 1895, "To those who are raising or contemplating rais- 

Tomatoes — 375 

ing winter crops under glass, the question of substituting fertilizers for ma- 
nure, in part at least, is a very important one. Forcing house soil as usually 
prepared, consists of rich garden soil or rotted turf, composted with from 
one-fourth to one-half its bulk of horse manure. Aside from the labor of 
hauling and repeatedly working over this material to secure the fine mellow 
condition which is desired, the cost formerly was not great. But the in- 
troduction of electric cars enormously cut down the production of horse 
manure in the cities, which has been the main dependence of our market 
gardeners. In consequence, the preparation of suitable soil for forcing 
houses is increasingly expensive. Besides this it is found that even a rich 
natural soil cannot carry forcing house tomatoes to their highest productive- 
ness, and therefore liquid manure is often used to water the soil after the 
plants have come into bearing. The admirable work on the use of commercial 
fertilizers on field tomatoes, done at the New Jersey Station, has proved that 
the ripening of the crop may be very materially hastened by the proper use 
of fertilizer chemicals, especially of nitrate of soda. 

To hasten the ripening of crops under glass, where the expense of growing 
them is so much greater than in the field, must greatly increase the profits 
of the business. A further question also connected with these, is, whether 
the humus of rotted manure, generally regarded as necessary to regulate the 
storage and circulation of moisture in the soil under natural conditions, can 
be replaced by some cheap substitute, or dispensed with altogether in forcing- 
house culture, where the supply of soil moisture can be well regulated by 
artificial means. 

"Our first endeavor was to find out how much nitrogen tomato plants 
raised under glass take from the soil, in their fruit and vines, and 
how much nitrogen needs to be in the soil to meet fully this demand of the 
plants. These questions we studied by raising tomatoes on the forcing- 
house bench filled with soil known to be practically free from available nitro- 
gen, but believed to contain all other ingredients necessary for a maximum 
tomato crop. To these plats were added known quantities of nitrogen in the 
form of nitrate of soda. The weight of the fruit harvested, and of the vines 
which bore it, with the chemical analysis of both, furnish the means of deter- 
mining how much nitrogen, phosphoric acid and potash a crop of tomatoes 
takes from the soil. Comparison of the quantities of nitrogen applied to the 
several plats, with the weights of the crops and of their nitrogen, gives some 
indication of the amount of nitrogen necessary to apply in order to secure 
a maximum crop." The house used in the experiments was specially con- 
structed and was a three-quarter-span-roof house, 16x40 feet running east 
and west, with a partition across the centre, making two apartments. The 

276 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

house is heated by steam from a boiler that heats all the Station buildings 
with a pressure of five pounds The steam enters the house, passes over- 
head to the further end and then returns in pipes under the benches. Venti- 
lation is by a continuous line of ventilating sashes along the south side, 
hinged at the top. North and south walls are both solid (without glass). 
The front wall is twenty-one inches above the top of the bench, and the back 
wall thirty-eight inches. 

The experiments were made on the centre bench of the house at the cast 
end section. This bench is nine inches deep, with a bottom of six inch boards 
laid three-fourths of an inch apart for drainage, the cracks being covered 
with coarse peat so that none of the soil could escape. Five plats were made, 
each three feet six and one-half inches by three feet eleven inches, having an 
area of 13.87 square feet. The soil was filled in to the depth of eight inches, 
leaving room for settling after watering, and six plants were set in each plat. 
"The soil for each plat was separately mixed, as follows: 300 pounds of 
anthracite coal ashes, sifted to pass a wire screen with four meshes to the 
inch, were spread on a cement floor, and 9 pounds of peat moss, such as is 
sold in the cities for stable bedding, screened like the ashes, were scattered 
over them. To these were added three and a half ounces of precipitated 
carbonate of lime, to neutralize a slight acidity of the peat and give to the 
whole a mild alkaline reaction. These materials were shoveled over twice 
carefully and then spread as before. 

"The fertilizers designed for the plat w^ere sprinkled over this mixture 
and the whole carefully shovelled over twice again, to secure as perfect a mix- 
ture as possible of fertilizers and soil, and then carried in a hand barrow to 
the designated plat in the forcing house. 

"The north bench in the same division of the house was filled with a rich 
soil prepared by composting good thick turf with one-third its bulk of stable 
manure. Plants were set in this bench mainly to nuike a rough comparison 
between crojis grown on the two radically different soils. The exposure of the 
two benches is slightly different, that of the north l)ench being, perhaps, some- 
what less favorable as regards light. 

"Three varieties were used : Ignotum, Acme and Dwarf Champion, two 
plants of each variety being set in each plat, and all receiving the same treat- 
ment. The method of training adopted was the single stem system, which 
has been successfully used at the New York Cornell Station. By this system 
■plants can be set closer, and while the yield may be much less per plant than 
under other systems of training, it is as large or larger per square foot of 
bench area devoted to the crop. The ])lants blossomed soon after setting. 
The first pollenating was done January 5th, PoUenation was effected by 

Tomatoes— 277 

holding a spoon directly under, each flower and gently tapping the upper part 
of the blossom with a pencil or small stick. Pollen is thus shaken into the 
spoon and at the same time the stigma is driven into the mass of loose pollen 
in the bottom of the spoon. The stigmatic surface which is on the end of the 
style is thus coated with pollen, and as flower after flower is visited on many 
different plants, cross fertilization is insured. Flowers were pollenated about 
every other day throughout the blossoming period." 

All the plants grew finely for a while, though as early as the 8th of Janu- 
ary there was observed a slight difference in the color of the plants in the plat 
which had received no nitrate of soda, and this difference of a lighter color 
increased during the season. First ripe fruit was on the 27th of February, 
being three Tgnotums in one plat and one in another, both of the artificial soil, 
and two Ignotums and three Acmes from the natural soil. Temperature 
ranged from GO to G5 degrees at night and often on warm sunny days 85 to 
90 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The following summary is given of the results: 

1. A forcing-house tomato crop yielding about two pounds of fruit for 
each square foot of bench room, takes in the vines and fruit, for eveiy hun- 
dred square feet of bench space, not less than: 

Grams. Lbs. Ozs. 

Nitrogen 168 ^ r Nitrate of soda 2 5 

Phosphoric acid 65 >■ equivalent to < Dissolved bone black. . 13 

Potash 362 J I Muriate of potash 1 9 

Of this from a fourth to a fifth only is in the vines. 

2. To enable the plants to get these fertilizer elements as required, there 
should be a large excess of them in the soil, perhaps double the quantity given 

3. Every 100 pounds of tomato fruit takes from the soil approximately: 

Ounces Ounces 

Nitrogen 2.2 -j r Nitrate of soda 14 

Phosphoric acid 9 j- equivalent to < Dissolved bone black. . . 5 

Potash 4.6 J i Muriate of potash 10 

4. Tt is possible to grow a crop of forcing-house tomatoes, amounting to 
two or more pounds per square foot of bench space, perfectly normal in size 
color, taste and chemical composition, by the aid of commercial fertilizers 
alone, and in soil composed of coal ashes and peat. 

In a further discussion of the subject the Connecticut report says that 
they are not ready from one experiment to recommend a departure from 

?78 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

present methods, but they feel justified in calling attention to certain appar- 
ent advantages of the artificial soil for forcing purposes. 

For every 100 square feet of bench space there will l)e required 2,200 
pounds sifted ashes and 63 pounds of dried peat or leaf mold to fill the bench 
8 inches deep, and experiments may show that the peat is not necessary About 
10 pounds of commercial fertilizers are needed for this much bench space, cost- 
ing at present ton rates less than 21 cents. In very many cases, then, the 
cost of filling the benches with the artificial soil will be very much less than 
the cost of filling them with rich garden soil or compost. The tomato plants 
grown in natural soil made much slower growth and were slower in fruiting 
than those in artificial soil supplied with nitrates. Another consideration is 
the freedom from insects and fungi in the ashes, which constitute 97 per 
cent, of the bulk of the artificial soil, and even the peat which is hardly 
needed, is not so apt to convey these as the rich garden soil. It was found 
that there was a special freedom from the nematode worms which cause root 
galls on plants. The rich garden soil becomes so infested with these that it 
cannot be used for tomatoes more than one season. In the artificial soil 
no nematodes were found beyond the ball of earth set with the plants, but they 
were very abundant in the natural soil. 

We have given such full space to the tomato because, for both culture in 
the open ground and under glass, it is about the most important of our vege- 
table crops. It will readily be seen from the experiments of the Connecticut 
Experiment Station, which we have given in detail, that the manurial re- 
quirements of the tomato are mainly for nitrogen and potash, and it may be 
remarked that this is the case with a large proportion of our garden crops, 
few of which, if we except the cruciferous family, the cabbage and its allies, 
require such a large percentage of phosphoric acid as is usually found in the 
various brands of fertilizers sold ready mixed on the market. 


We have made a number of experiments in the pruning and training of 
tomatoes. In the house, before the plants go into the frames, we do not hesi- 
tate to top them if they threaten to get too tall, but we had rather not do 
this, and would try to keep them growing slower. In the open ground there 
have been numberless contrivances invented for the support of the plants, 
and we have tried different methods of training and pruning. The conclus- 
ions we have arrived at are these : When tomatoes are grown on a large scale 
for market it will not pay to prune thorn or to make any effort to support 
them. The rot is not caused by the tomatoes touching the ground, but from 

Tomatoes — 279 

the attacks of a specific fungus disease, and if we ward off the attacks of dis- 
ease, there will be no rot, even though the fruit may rest on the ground. I 
have often gathered the finest of tomatoes half buried in the soil. Begin the 
spraying with Bordeaux mixture as soon as the tom'atoes are set, keep it 
up at intervals till the fruit is half grown, and there will be less rot than if 
they arc trained off the ground and no spraying done. It is an advantage, 
of course, in small gardens where space is scanty, to plant close like we do in 
the forcing-house and train to single stems supported by stakes, and in this 
way a larger crop may perhaps be gathered from a limited space by the use 
of more plants. Where a support is used the best thing we have ever tried 
for the support of anything in the garden needing it, is the wire poultry net- 
ting, now sold in various widths so that it can be adapted to plants of various 
heights. Stretched to stakes along the row the tomato plants can be pruned 
to a single stem and set two feet apart in the row, there is always a point to 
tie to, and the leaves, growing through the meshes will of themselves aid in 
the support of the plant. While in the ISForth it is perfectly practicable to 
carry the early forwarded plants through the whole season it is not so in the 
South, for the early plants of the garden are usually either checked badly or 
killed by the heat and drought we usually have about the last 
of June. If we then do not have a supply of fresh plants 
coming on from seed sown in the open ground in April, there 
is apt to be a cessation of tomatoes; so we always try to provide 
this set of plants, and these, too, will usually fail by the late fall ; hence we 
have adopted the plan of sowing seed for a third crop about the first of June. 
These plants get the advantage of the rainy season we usually have during 
July and August, get into full fruiting in the fall, and are generally full of 
green fruit when frost comes. We usually get more tomatoes from these 
plants than from either of the other sowings, for when the frost comes we 
gather all the green tomatoes and wrap them singly in paper and pack in 
boxes and place in a room where they will be kept cool but clear of frost. 
Then a few are taken out from time to time and placed in a warm room, 
where they soon color up and are ready for the table. In this way we are able 
to keep up a regular supply of tomatoes for slicing, till the forced tomatoes 
of the hothouse are ready in January. On a large scale we are sure that 
this late crop might be made a valuable one in the South, as the fruit can be 
had in good condition for shipping, and better than the Florida crop, about 
the Christmas holidays when they will bring a good price. One would sup- 
pose from the tropical nature of the plant that the tomato would be a more 
successful crop in the open ground in the South than in the North, but, as 
we have shown, the difficulties in the growing of the crop increase as we come 

280 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

southward, and the quality of the product in the open air is not equal to 
that of the Northern crop. But in the forcing-house we have a great advant- 
age over the Northern grower, and we have treated of this part of the subject 
fully because we believe that winter forcing in the Upper South is destined to 
become a great interest. 


In the report of the Connecticut Station for 1899 we find the following 
statements. In the season of 1897-8 two crops of tomatoes were forced, and the 
compost and coal-ash beds were made to alternate with each other through 
the house. To each plat of coal ashes and peat were added -41 1.6-1 grams of 
nitrate of soda, 700 grams cotton seed meal, 141.36 grams dissolved bone 
black, and 315 grams of muriate of potash. For the second crop the amounts of 
these removed by the first crop were added. The application was too heavy 
and the plants were injured by it. In 1898-9 nitrogen was furnished to the 
plats of coal ashes and peat with same materials and also with bone meal. 
The yield from the plats dressed with bone was below that of the others. 
The soil of coal ashes and peat made a heavier yield of tomatoes than the pot- 
ting compost, and the same result was found in all the crops. 



The following' special foninilas have been pro])osed l)y the Nortli Caro- 
lina Agrieiiltui-al Experiiiieni Statio]i for the various crops grown by tlic; 
market i^^arcK'ner. 


(1) Nitrate of soda 

Fish scrap 

Acid phosphate . . 
Muriate of potash 

(2) Nitrate of soda 
Dried blood . . . 
Acid phospate. . . 
Muriate of potash 


. . 800 1 

. . 800 ( 

. 600 



600 ( . , ,. 

> yielding 
850 j •' ^ 

800 ' 

Per cent. 

Animouia 6.9 

Available phosphoric acid... 5.5 
Potash 8.0 

Ammonia 7.2 

Available phosphoric acid. . . 5.5 
Potash 7.0 



(1) Nitrate of soda 800 

Cotton seed meal 600 

Bone black superphoa. . . 800 
Muriate of potash 800 

(2) Nitrate of soda 800"] 

Fish scrap 600 ( 

Acid phosphate 800 | 

Muriate of potash 800 J 

(8) Nitrate of soda 200 ~) 

Fish scrap 900 ( 

Bone black superphos. . . 600 ( 
ISturiate of potash 800 ' 

(4) Nitrate of soda 220 "j 

Dried blood 500 f 

Acid phosphate 970 ( 

isruriate of potash 310 ) 






Ammonia 5.4 

Available phosphoric acid.... 7.2 
Potash 8.1 

Annnouia 5. 1 

Available ])hosphoric acid .... 6.S 
Potash 7.8 

Ammonia 6.4 

Available phosphoric acid ... 6.6 
Potash 7.8 

Ammonia 6.1 

Available phosphoric acid. . . . 6.8 
Potash 8.0 

282 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

(5) Nitrate of soda . . . . 

('otton seed meal 

Acid phosphate 

Muriate of potash . . . 
(H) Nitrate of soda 


Acid phosphate 

Sulphate potash H. G. 

. 300 ^ 

■ «0^' i yielding 

800 ( 

. 810.) 
... 300^ 

^^ I yielding 

800 r -^ ^ 

, 300 ' 

Per cent. 

Ammon ia 5.4 

Available phosphoric acid 6.0 

Potash 8.3 

Ammonia '5.5 

Available phosphoric acid 6.4 

Potash , . , , 7.8 

This last will he hest for the Northern sections of the country, where the 
starch content of the crop is a matter of importance, as the sulphate of potash 
makes a more dry and starchy potato than the muriate, but the muriate gives 
the heavier crop in the South. 







Nitrate of soda 300"^ 

Cotton seed meal 800 ( 

Acid phosphate 600 ( 

Muriate of potash 300 J 

Nitrate of soda 200 "^ 

Fish scrap 800 ( 

Acid phosphate 700 | 

Muriate of potash 300 J 

Ammonia . 6.2 

Available phosphoric acid. . . 4.9 
Potash 8.5 

Ammonia ... 5.9 

Available phosphoric acid 5.4 

Potash .7.8 


Nitrate of soda 200 "j 

Cotton seed meal 750 ( yjgi(jing 

Acid phosphate 700 j "^ 

Muriate of potash 250 J 

Ammonia .... 6.0 

Available phosphoric acid .... 4.8 
Potash 7.1 


(1) Nitrate of soda 200 "J 

Fish scrap 650 ( 

Acid phosphate 920 ( 

Muriate of potash 230 3 

(2) Nitrate of soda 300 "J 

Cotton seed meal 500 ( 

Acid phosphate 1000 j 

Muriate of potash 200 J 

(Ammonia 5.2 

Available phosphoric acid ... 7.7 

Potash 6.0 

j" Ammonia 5.0 

yielding j Available phosphoric acid 7.6 

^ Potash 5.6 


(1) Nitrate of soda 250 

Cotton seed meal 550 

Acid phosphate 900 

Muriate of potash 300 


Ammonia 4.6 

Available phosphoric acid 6.5 

Potash 8.3 

Some Special Formulas for Truck Crops — 283 


PoundB. P*"" cent. 

1) Nitrate of soda 2(K) ^ , . .q 

r^ .. , , --nn f fAmmouia • -l.y 

Cotton seed meal /()()( „i^,u4i„„ » ., , , , u v> „ ;^ c ^ 

, . , , , , „„„ > yielding \ Available phosphoric acid ... 6.1 

Acid phoHphate 800 i Potash 8.4 

Muriate of potash 30<) ) 


(1) Nitrate of soda 200^ , .o 

,^ ^^ . , -nn ' ( Ammonia 4.9 

Cotton seed meal /OO 

Acid phosphate 840 

Muriate of potash 260 . 

yielding ^ Available phosphoric acid 6.3 

Potash 7.4 


^) Nitrate of soda 200 ~| 

Cotton seed meal 750 ( ^.j^,^.^g j ^^^jj^^,,^ phosphoric acid .... 5.1 

Acid phosphate /oO 1 ' 

Muriate of potash 300 

Ammonia 5.1 

Available phosphoric acid 5.1 

Potash 8.5 


Ammonia 3.5 

Available phosphoric acid 7.8 

Potash 8.3 

(1) Nitrate of soda 10(J "| 

Fish strap. -JOO ( yj^Miug \ Available phosphoric acid 7.8 

Acid phosphate 1180 I y 

Muriate of potash 320 j 

(2) Nitrate of soda 100 "j 

Cotton seed meal 500 ( -,:^iHi,,„ I . -, . , v. v, ,-. ^; ^ " c 

. ._, ^ ^ , ,1/uv r y^*^'"'"S i Available phosphoric acid i.8 

Acid phosphate 1100 1 y 

Muriate of potash 300 J 

Ammonia 3.5 

Available phosphoric acid .... 7.8 
Potash 8.3 


(1) Nitrate of soda 100^ , . „„ 

' , , . , , - -n I r Ammonia ^.y 

Cotton seed meal 4o0 I ^,;<iiHir.o- ) . •. i., i, v, • a -i 

, . , . , ^ ,onn r yielding^ Available phosphoric acid /.I 

Acid phosphate 1200 1 t^ .. . a a. 

T,. . . / * I, ocn I Potash 6.9 

Muriate of potash 250 -' 


In a bulletin ])Ul)lislio(l in ISO;^ the Ohio Station, from a series of four 
years experiments, concludes: "While, therefore, these experiments demon- 
fctrate the possibility of producing a regular and certain increase in the yield 
of cereal cro])s by the use of a complete chemical fertilizer, yet they show 
that if such fertilizers are to jje used in Ohio in the production of cereal 
crops with any prospect of profit and as a part of a regular system of agri- 
culture, that system must provide for the accumulation in the soil of the 
largest possible quantity of organic nitrogen, through the culture, in short 
rotations, of plants which have the power of obtaining nitrogen from sources 
inaccessible to the cereals." 

The following year the same Station made the following additional 
statement: "At the present prices of cereal crops and of fertilizing materials 
respectively the profital)le production of coi-n, wheat and oats upon chemical 
or commercial fertilizers, or upon barnyard manure, if its cost be proportion- 
ate to that of the chemical constituents of fertility found in commercial 
fertilizers, is a hopeless undertaking, unless these cro])s ])e grown in a sys- 
tematic rotation with clover or a similar nitrogen-storing crop; and the 
poorer the soil in natural fertility the smaller the prol)ability of profitable 
crop production by means of artificial fertilizers." 

All of which makes more (Muphatic what we have said in regard to the 
need for the renovation of the soil and the storing of it with humus, through 
the growing of cow peas or clover, thus making it not only richer in the 
nitrogenous matters, but making it more retentive of moisture for the proper 
dissolving of the chemicals a])])lied. The richer the soil in humus the more 
lavish may the application of fertilizers l)e made willi ])rofii. And yet all 
over the South there are thousands of farmers dribbling a little fertilizer 
on soil almost 1)arren, for the purpose of growing a little more cotton without 
ever inquiring whether or not the increase in the crop pays for the fertilizer. 


SoMK Station Ivestigatioks in Fertilizers — 285 

The Rhode IsUind Station liivcs the ioUowing list of formulas for the 
home luixing- of fertilizers, \\\c following- being for the Irish potato crop: 

Pounds. Percent. 

Acid phosphate 850 ) Nitrogen 3.5 

Nitrate of soda 150 I yielding Potas^h 8.0 

Muriate of potash 800 [ Available i.hosphoric acid .... 0.0 

Cotton seed meal 700 J 

Where a higher (jiialily of potatoes was desired, the following was 
advised : 

Pounds. Per cent. 
High grade sulphate of potash o25 "j 

Nitrate of soda 100 / r Nitrogen 4.0 

Sulphate of ammonia 100 .> yielding -j Potash 8.0 

Dissolved bone black 750 ( i Available phosphoric acid 7.0 

Cotton seed meal 725 

'i'lie t'ollowing formula Avas designe<l where a good (juality of tubers was 
desired, and was at the prices then ruling, very cheap: 

Pounds. Per cent. 

Cotton seed meal 800 ^ 

„ , , , , , e * "i uui f r Nitrogen nA 

H.G sulpha e of potash 4 ) _^,j^,^.„^ ^^^^g ^^^ 

Nitrate of soda KIO { ^ ■, v,^ v. i. ■ ^ co 

.... . , _,,,, 1 ^ Available phos])honc acid .... 5.2 

Acid phosphate /OO ^ ' ' 

■^riie following forniida contains a large amount of nitrogen in the form 
of nitrates. The bone comes slowly into use and that makes it best for a 
long si'ason or successive crops: 

Pounds. Percent. 

Muriate of iiotash 400 ^ 

Acid jihosphate 5(K» I r Nitrogen 2.5 

Nitrate of soda 250 v yielding j Potash 10.2 

lionc meal 400 \ '- Available phosphoric acid 7.2 

Cotton seed meal 450 

Another IJliodt^ Island potato formula: 

Pound <-■ Per cent. 

.\cid phosphate 80' "^ 

Tankage 550 ( . , ,. (Nitrogen 2.5 

,. , , ? vieldmir i pot^'jh 11 1 

Muriate of potash 450 f " j ' ^^^^^ "• 

Nitrate of soda 110 J ^ Available phosphoric acid . , , 7.2 

286 — Crop Feeding and Crop Growing 

The grower who used the above formula became convinced that it con- 
tained too little nitrogen for his soil, and he used, then, the following: 

Pounds. Per cent. 

Nitrate of soda 150 ^ 

Sulphate of ammonia 100 / r Nitrogen 4.6 

Dried blood 450 > yielding I Potash 10.0 

Muriate of potash 400 [ I Available phosi)horie acid .... 5.8 

Acid phosphate 900 

Another Ehode Island grower uses the followinsr; 


H. G. sulphate of potash 360 ] 

Acid phosphate 550 I 

Tankage 730 ielding 

Fine ground bone 120 

Nitrate of soda 120 

Dried blood 120 - 

Per cent. 

Nitrogen 8.9 

Potash 8.6 

Available phosphoric acid 6.0 

Another grower made various changes in the formulas he used from 
year to year, and the following represents the ideal which he finally reached. 
He uses only the highest grades of materials: 


Fine ground bone 400 

Dissolved bone black 400 

Dry ground fish 300 

Cotton seed meal 300 

Nitrate of soda 200 

Sulphate of potash 200 

Muriate of potash 200 


Per cent. 

Nitrogen 4.0 

Potash lO.a 

Available phosphoric acid 6.4 

Very excellent results are claimed for this formula for potatoes and 
.egetables in rotation with cereals and grasses. He mixes but 500 pounds at 
each mixing, and instead of weighing out each time the amount of the 
materials to be mixed, he uses boxes gauged to hold approximately the right 

Another grower has used the following with good results : 

Ponnrts. Per cent. 

Dissolved bone black 750 ^ 

Tankage 760 / r Nitrogen 4.5 

H. G. sulphate of potash 430 > yielding } Potash 10.3 

Sulphate of ammonia 140 ( ^ Available phosphoric acid .... 6.7 

Nitrate of soda 100 ) 

Some Station Investigations in Fertilizers — 287 

Proposed formula for onions: 


Muriate of potash 400 ^ 

Acid i)ho8phate 550 / 

Tankage 500 > yielding 

Fine ground bone 200 i 

Nitrate of soda 350 J 

Per cent. 

Nitrogen 4.4 

Potash 10.0 

Available phosphoric acid .... 5.9 

Rhode Island f ornuila for general purposes ; 


Nitrate of soda 125 "j 

Ta°*^^ge '^5<^ i yielding 

Dissolved bone black 725 1 

Muriate of potash 400 J 

Per cent. 

A compost with hen manure : 


Air dry hen manure 1330 

Acid phosphate . • 530 

Muriate of potash 140 

i yielding j 

Nitrogen 3.2 

Potash 10.0 

Available phosphoric acid 8.0 

Per cent. 

Nitrogen 2.0 

Potash 4.5 

Phosphoric acid 5.1 

As we have said heretofore, we have never found any fertilizer 
there is purchased nitrogen, which paid its cost on the Indian corn c 
Rhode Island Station gives the following formula for corn, which is 
well compounded to suit the manurial reqiiirements of the plant 
soils. But for a soil notal)ly deficient in potash, as much of 
England soil is, we would reverse the percentages of phosphoric 


Acidrphosphate 920 

Nitrate of soda 330 

Tankage 550 

Muriate of potash 200 




Phosphoric acid 

in which 
rop. The 
for most 
the jSTew 
acid and 

Per cent. 




The acid phosphate in the above is stated in the bulletin as dissolved 
bone, and the following remarks are appended. 

"Dissolved bone is freqiiently sold at so high a price that it would l)e 
better economy to omit its use and substitute a little extra nitrate of soda 
to supply the nitrogen ; and dissolved bone black, dissolved phosphate rock 
or double superphosphate to furnish the phosphoric acid." This advice is 
good, except that it would add more expense to the nitrogen, and it would 
have been better to have stated plainly that soluble phosphoric acid is one and 
the same thing, no matter whether it is derived from bone or rock, and if 

288 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

the "dissolved bones" are not really dissolved rock phosphate it would be an 
exception to the general practice of the fertilizer trade, for the idea is so com- 
mon among farmers that the phosphoric acid from animal bones is better 
than that from rock, that manufacturers have gotten into the habit of calling 
dissolved rock, bone. 

Another lihode Island formula for use on sandy soil for corn is as follows : 

Pounds. Per cent. 

Muriate of potash 360 \ r Nitrogen 4.2 

Dissolved boue black 1000 [ yielding } Potash 9.0 

Nitrate of soda 550 J i l^liosphoric acid 9.2 

The main fault in this is that all the nitrogen is furnished by the im- 
mediately available nitrate of soda, and if the corn is planted where there is 
no plowed under sod, there would be need for some organic nitrogen to keep 
up the nitrification during the long season in which corn grows. Then, too, 
the phosphoric acid could be more cheaply gotten in South Carolina dissolved 
rock than in bone black, though the percentage might not have been so high, 
but as the percentage of phosphoric acid is too high anyway, this would be 
no disadvantage, unless the soil is known to be very deficient in phosphoric 

The Rhode Island Station gives the following formula, which was de- 
vised for the soil of an old pasture of sandy land, known to be very deficient 
in phosphoric acid : 

Pound8. Per cent. 

Nitrate of soda 200 ") 

Tankage 700 ( . ,^. f Nitrogen 3.7 

Double superphosphate 700 f ^^"'^'^^ P^^ash 10.0 

Muriate of potash 400 J Phosphoric acid 15 8 

The bulletin states that half a ton per acre of this formula was used for 
Indian corn, and the yield to have been much above the average. We are of 
the opinion that the yield must have been much above the average and 
the price of the crop still further above the average for the 
farmer to have gotten the cost out of the crop. The same grower stated that 
this formula, applied at the rate of a ton per acre, produced a yield of 280 
bushels of potatoes per acre on an old sandy-loam pasture. This would not 
have l)een considered an extraordinary yield for such fertilization by the grow- 
ers of the early potato crop in the South Atlantic coast, and it would have 
been more satisfactory to know how many potatoes could have been grown on 
the old sod without stich a heavy application, for it is not the largest crop that 
is always the most profitable. 

Some Station Investigations in Fertilizers — 289 
Anotlicr Kluxlc Island fotnula for corn on sandy soil is as follows: 

rounds. Per cent. 

Nitrate of soda 250 ") 

Muriate of potash ;!00 ( • , ,- f Nitrogen 2.8 

Acid phosphate 120() P"^'^^'"^ ^^-^-^^ '■' 

Cotton seed meal 2o0 3 ^ Phosphoric acid 8.0 


Pounds. Per cent. 

Air dry hen manure 1190 \ f Nitrogen 1.8 

Acid phosphate 710 > yielding \ Potash 3.4 

Muriate of potash 100 f I Phosphoric acid 6.0 


Pounds. Per cent. 

Acid phosphate 900 ^ 

Nitrateofsoda 200 ( . ,,. [Nitrogen 3.5 

Muriate of potash 300 f ^^"^^^^M ^^^ash 8.0 

Cotton seed meal.- 600 J ^ phosphoric acid 6.3 

The bulletin suggests that on old land in poor condition probably better 
returns would be ol)tained by substituting a little nitrate of soda and a con- 
siderable amount of dissolved phosphate rock for a portion of the cotton 
seed meal. 


Pounds. Per cent. 

Dis.solved bone 930 ") 

Muriate of potash 220 ( . ,,. „ [Nitrogen 5.2 

Tankage.. 380 P^^'^^"^ ^^^^-^ 5- 

Nitrateofsoda 47oJ ^ Phosphoric acid 7.9 


Pounds. Per cent. 

INIuriate of potash 370 ") 

Nitrateofsoda 500 ( ^Min., f ^'*'''^^" ^'^^ 

Acid phosphate 590 f ^^"^^"^^ ^^^^^ 9.7 

Cotton seed meal 540 ) Phosphoric acid 4.2 


Pounds. Per cent. 

.,,.,, „ "J Nitrogen 3.9 

Nitrate of soda 37(i r f p f i i - c 

M uriate of potash mo) yielding J ^^.f ^, •-•••••••••• l'^-« 

^. ', ^ ,„„„ I Available phosphoric acid .... 5.5 

Fine ground bone 1000 J ^ m 4^ ■ . . ■ .j ,, n 

* J Total phosphoric acid 11.0 

290 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 
for seeding down and topdressing grass. rhode island station. 

Pounds. Per cent. 

Muriate of potash 200 ^ 

Nitrate of soda 200 / /- Nitrogen 4.0 

Cotton seed meal 600 V yielding ■! Potash 5.5 

Acid phosphate 500 ( l Phosphoric acid 6.4 

Fine ground bone 500 j 


Pounds. Per cent. 

Nitrate of soda 50 "j 

Muriate of potash 200 / /■ Nitrogen 3.0 

Acid phosphate 400 V yielding -| Potash 5.0 

Fine ground bone 700 I I Phosphoric acid 8.0 

Tankage 650 J 


Pounds. Per cent. 

Nitrate of soda 300 ^ r Nitrogen 2.3 

Acid phosphate 148Q y yielding } Potash 5.5 

Muriate of potash 220 ) i Phosphoric acid 9.6 

We quote the following from the bulletin of the Rhode Island Station 
on the effect of wood ashes as a fertilizer, and the supplementary constitu- 
ents which should be used in connection with them : 

"We find that farmers in most sections of Rhode Island highly esteem 
wood ashes as a manure, and in many localities they seem to hold a rank next 
to barnyard manure. From repeated inquiries made in many sections of the 
State it appears that the beneficial effect of wood ashes is, almost without 
exception, attril)uted to the direct manurial action of the potash which they 
contain, yet it is usual to hear that the effects from a single application are 
often visible for from ten to fifteen years. When we consider, however, that 
100 bushels of ashes weighing about 4,500 pounds would, upon the average 
basis of 5 per cent, of potash, contain but 225 pounds of actual potash, which 
is equivalent to Imt 450 pounds of muriate of potash, it would seem at least 
astonishing that an after-effect from such an application should be visible 
for from ten to fifteen years unless it were due in a considerable measure 
to something other than the small amount of potash it contains. An appli- 
cation of a ton of potato or vegetable fertilizer containing 10 per cent, of pot- 
ash would supply 200 pounds of potash, equivalent to 400 pounds of muriate 
of potash, or an amount nearly equal to that supplied by 4,500 pounds of 
wood ashes; and yet we practically never hear of any long continued after 
effect from the use of muriate or sulphate of potash, or of chemical fertilizers 
which contain them. Wood ashes contain on an average al)Out 1.5 per cent. 

Some Station Investigations in Fertilizers — 291 

of phosphoric acid, which would amount to an application of 67.5 pounds 
of phosphoric acid for each 4,500 pounds of wood ashes, an amount equivalent 
to what would be furnished by about 300 pounds of fine ground bone. Now 
if the action of the ashes is based upon the combined manurial effect of the 
potash and phosphoric acid, then 450 pounds of muriate of potash and 300 
])ounds of ground bone would be expected to exert an effect analagous to that 
obtained from the wood ashes. As a matter of fact we believe that the farm- 
ers of Rhode Island and many other parts of New England have obtained 
results with wood ashes which are not due to, and which doubtless would not 
be attainable, by the use of the quantities of muriate of potash and bone above 
mentioned. It would appear to be equally unsatisfactory to attribute the 
beneficial action of wood ashes solely to small quantities of magnesia, soda, 
or whatever else they may contain, regardless of the lime. The experiments 
thus far conducted at this Station, as well as others at Hope Valley and Wes- 
terly, together with experiments by farmers in West Kingston, Usquepaugh, 
and several other localities without the State, point strongly to the value of 
lime on many soils ; not only as direct plant food, but also in putting the soil 
into a condition suitable for the growth of certain plants, and into such a 
condition that the nitrogenous plant food stored up in the soil, as well as that 
in organic nitrogen and ammonium sulphate employed, may exert its maxi- 
mum effect. In this connection, also the well known value of lime in improv- 
ing the physical condition of sandy as well as clayey soils should not go un- 
mentioned. In other words, our experience and observation in this State 
leads us to believe that the chief cause of the long continued after effect of 
wood ashes is the lime which they contain and not the potash, as has been 
heretofore generally supposed. Certainly if such is the case it behooves the 
farmers of the State to try the lime experiment for the purpose of testing 
this question, for the same amount of lime and other fertilizing elements 
which wood ashes contain can be purchased in other, probably equally 
effective, forms at a lower price. It will be evident from what 
has just been said, that wood ashes contain but little phosphoric 
acid, and it is also true that they contain no nitrogen. Therefore 
if they are to be used on a rational and economical basis they must be supple- 
mented by phosphatic and nitrogenous fertilizers. The following materials 
used upon one acre would be about equivalent, so far as concerns potash, phos- 
phoric acid and nitrogen, to one ton of fertilizer containing 10 per cent, of 
potash, 6.5 per cent, of available phosphoric acid, and 4 per cent, of nitrogen: 

Wood ashes 4000 iwunds 

Dissolved phosphate rock 1000 ]wund8 

Nitrate of soda 510 pounds 

392 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

Practically the same amount of lime and other ingredients would be con- 
tained in the following: 

Air slaked lime 20(K) pounds 

Dissolved phosphate rock 1400 pounds 

Muriate of jjotash 400 pounds 

Nitrate of soda 510 pounds." 

All of which we assume is probably theoretically true, and yet in the 
effort to make an artificial substitute for the wood ashes, would there not be a 
danger of a great loss of nitrogen? We are of the opinion that these matters 
may well be applied to some soils, but that the fertilizing chemicals should 
be mixed and applied, and the lime applied separately and not in mixture 
with the fertilizers. So far as the long-continued after effect of the wood 
ashes is concerned, we are of the opinion that the Rhode Island Station is 
to a great extent correct in attributing at least part of it to the lime they con- 
tain, and especially we would add to the extremely fine condition in which the 
lime exists in the wood ashes. But we consider it an error to advise the use 
of air slaked lime as an application to the soil. Freshly water slaked lime is 
far better. Then, too, while ashes have a long after effect, we cannot agree 
to the statement that similar after effects are not found from applications of 
potash salts and phosphoric acid. In a considerable section with which we are 
familiar the long continued use of phosphoric acid to the soil has resulted 
in an accumulation, so that farmers there no longer find any effect from new 
applications of superphosphate, and it is a well known fact that potash ac- 
cumulates in a similar manner. 

To the following remarks from the Rhode Island Station we heartily 
agree: "Barnyard manure contains relatively more nitrogen than potash, 
and is notably deficient in phosphoric acid, so that if the manure is to be used 
on the most economical basis a small amount of potash and a much larger 
quantity of phosphoric acid should be used in connection with it. Owing to 
the great variation in the composition of such manure, depending upon the 
cattle food used, the care of the manure, and the amount of foreign matter 
mixed with it, no attempt to give the exact amounts for use will be made. 
A motto in relation to manures which should find its place on every farm 
would read somewhat as follows: Save what you have, supplement it wisely 
and buy economically." 

We would add that this saving and supplementing can well be done by 
mixing the manure daily, when taken from the stable, with a mixture of acid 
phosphate and kainit in equal parts. It has long been the practice with 
some to use plaster for this purpose, but while plaster, if properly used, is 

Some Station Investigations in Fertilizers — 293 

effectual in preventing the loss of nitrogen, it fails to add the potash and phos- 
phoric acid needed, and the above mixture will be as effective in preventing 
loss of nitrogen, and will at the same time add what the manure is deficient 
in. The Rhode Island Station has done perhaps more in the investigation of 
the value and effects of lime than any other of our Stations, and we add here, 
as an addition to what we have already said upon the effects of lime, the fol- 
lowing quotation from Bulletin 4() of that Station: 


"Lime unites with acid substances in the soil, by which the soil is sweet- 
ened, or its natural acidity (sourness) overcome or reduced. In case certain 
injurious iron compounds are present in soils, these are so transformed by 
lime as to be rendered harmless. It also acts upon the potash compounds 
in the soil in such a way that the lime takes the place of the potash, setting 
the latter free for the use of plants. If lime is present in a soil to which 
ordinary commercial fertilizers, dissolved boneblack, dissolved bone, dissolved 
phosphate rock, or double superphosphate, have been added, it is probable 
that some of the soluble phosphoric acid will further combine with lime, in 
which condition it would be expected to be more readily available to plants 
than would have been the case had lime been a])sent, and a more favorable op- 
])ortunity been given for all the phosphoric acid not quickly utilized by the 
plants to combine with iron and aluminum oxids. 


"The presence of lime in soils favors the decomposition of the organic 
matter which they contain, and in this process carbonic acid is produced, 
which in turn acts upon the ingredients of the soils in such a way as to render 
the natural plant food much more readily assimilable. It plays, likewise, an 
important part in facilitating the change of ammonia into nitric acid, or, 
in other words, in placing at the disposal of plants the stored up nitrogen of 
the soil, as well as that applied to or left in it, in the form of animal ma- 
nures, meat, blood, fish, plant roots, etc. 

"Clover, alfalfa, and certain other of the plants which have the power 
of drawing tlicir nitrogen supply chiefly from the air within the soil, are 
unable to make a satisfactory growth and to thus utilize the vast amount of 
nitrogen about them, provided the soil exceeds a certain degree of acidity, but 
by the application of lime they are made to thrive and to gather for the 
farmer stores of nitrogen, for which he must pay a fertilizer dealer, at present 
prices, at tlie rate of aliout thirteen cents per pound." 

294 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

But it is unfortunate, perhaps, that the same effect the lime has in sweet- 
ening the soil for the bacteria that promotes the nitrogen collection of the 
legumes, will also sweeten it for the growth of other and injurious fungi, and 
hence it has been found that an application of lime to a soil well filled with 
decaying organic matter and planted in potatoes, will have the effect of pro- 
moting the growth of the fungus that causes potato scab. Hence it is well to 
avoid the direct application of lime to the potato crop. But if the lime is 
used to promote a previous growth of clover it will not injuriously affect the 
potatoes when planted on the clover sod. While most of the legumes are 
benefited in their growth by an application of lime, the Southern cow pea is an 
exception, and it seems to be injured rather than helped by the direct applica- 
tion of lime. But after a crop of peas has been grown on the land, the ap- 
plication of lime on the stubble will greatly aid in the work the peas do for 
the succeeding crop. Therefore, in a rotation of corn, winter grain, peas 
and cotton in the South the lime should always be applied on the small grain, 
especially if a large amount of organic matter has been applied to the pre- 
ceding corn crop, either by the turning under of a winter crop or the appli- 
cation of the barnyard manures, or both. 

Quoting further from the same bulletin of the Ehode Island Station: 
"Lime applied to stiff clays causes them to become more friable, more perme- 
able to the air, easier of tillage and better capable of supplying water to plants 
as needed. Sandy soils, on the other hand, are rendered by it more compact 
and more retentive of water and fertilizers. On very dry, sandy soils smaller 
applications of lime must be made than upon moist ones, and the use of large 
quantities of lime upon such soils, in single applications is inadvisable. 


"For the reason that lime, while in its caustic state, is injurious to cer- 
tain crops, and by lying in the soil its causticity is soon lost or materially de- 
creased, it is evident that the ideal time to apply it would be in the autumn. 
When autumn seeding is practiced, either with grass alone or in connection 
with winter grain, the lime should be sown upon the fu-rrows after plowing, 
and then most thoroughly harrowed in, for the degree of benefit from liming 
will depend to a great extent upon its even distribution and complete incor- 
poration into the surface soil. Where seeding Indian corn fields to grass at 
the last hoeing is practiced, as is common in the Connecticut Valley in Mass- 
achusetts, it would be advisable to apply the lime in the manner outlined 
above after plowing the land in the spring for the Indian corn crop. Under 
other circumstances it is probably better not to lime just before Indian corn 

►Some Station Investigations in Feetilizeks — 395 

or rye, for these crops are liable to be slightly injured by fresh applications 
of lime, some of which is in a caustic state. [We would remark that we have 
never found this the case, and have used lime freely just before planting corn 
with the best effects.— W. F. M.] 

"These statements, in relation to care in liming just prior to growing 
rye, Indian corn and millet, apply to cases where the nitrogen supply is 
chiefly in the form of nitrates, such, for example, as nitrate of soda, and 
where the soil conditions naturally induce rapid nitrification of the soil-nitro- 
gen, or of the nitrogen applied in natural and artificial manures, 
such as ammonium salts or organic matter. If the soil is very sour and ni- 
trates are not employed, then the use of lime immediately before these crops 
may prove of great service, for the reason that the benefit derived from the 
lime by virtue of its facilitating the transformation of the nitrogen into a 
form immediately assimilable by the plant, may far outweigh any direct in- 
jury that the lime might otlierwise have exerted." And we would add that 
no good farmer will be so ignorant as to buy nitrates for his corn in a properly 
devised rotation, and no harm can come from applying lim^ to a soil where 
manure has been plowed under for the corn. 

improvement of worn lands. 

We find the following in Bulletin 62 of the Louisiana Station. How 
can the worn lands of Louisiana be most speedily and economically restored 
to their primitive fertility? The answer would be, by proper rotation of 
crops, with or without fertilizers. What crops shall be taken for this rota- 
tion? Any combination which omits our cow pea would be injudicious. 
Several years ago this rotation was decided upon as the best one attainable 
in this section: Corn, oats, followed by cow peas and cotton. This rotation 
is faulty in principle but correct in practice, and was adopted last season 
after two years' trial. The corn should precede the cotton, but experience 
has demonstrated that Kust Proof oats, the only variety successfully grown 
here, must be planted in October if maximum results are desired. [In Xorth 
Carolina they should he sown in September.] Cotton cannot be removed 
in time for this crop, while corn can; hence this metathesis of crops. This 
rotation was adopted with and without fertilizers. It was begun in 1889. 
Three parallel strips, one-half acre wide and two acres long, were selected 
for the experiments. The eastern half of each was manured regularly with a 
fertilizer adapted to the crop, while the western half remains without fertil- 
izer. The oats in the foregoing fertilized plat were fertilized with the Sta- 
tion's grain fertilizer at rate of 200 pounds of cotton seed meal 

396 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

and 100 pounds of acid phosphate, mixed and scattered and harrowed in 
with the oats. The peas, fertilized with 50 pounds of acid phosphate and 
50 pounds of kainit. The pea, being a nitrogen gatherer, no nitrogen was 
applied additionally. The cotton was fertilized with the Station's compost 
for cotton, consisting of: One ton of acid phosphate; 100 bushels of stable 
manure; 100 bushels of green cotton seed; built in the following proportions: 
First layer, 5 bushels of stable manure; second layer, 5 bushels of cotton seed; 
third layer, 100 pounds of acid phosphate, etc. The cotton seed is made 
perfectly wet before spreading. The corn received the compost for corn, 
the ingredients the same as above, the proportion only being different, being 
one ton acid phosphate ; 200 bushels of stable manure ; 200 bushels of cotton 
seed, built as above, except proportion of 50 pounds of acid phosphate, 5 
bushels of manure, and 5 bushels of seed. The cultivation of the above plats, 
for this year, was as follows : For corn, plat A, land was broken with three- 
mule disc plow, 8 inches deep in February. Kows marked off four feet apart 
and compost applied in the furrows at rate of 30 bushels per acre. A flat 
list was made on this and corn planted March 31st. At last cultivation peas 
at rate of two bushels per acre were sown broadcast. For oats followed by 
peas, the land was deeply plowed in October and the fertilizer named was 
scattered, and two and a half bushels of oats per acre harrowed in with it. 
After the oats were harvested peas were planted in rows, one bushel per acre, 
with the fertilizer named. For cotton the pea stubble was plowed in Febru- 
ary and manured with compost. A careful study of the results of this rota- 
tion experiment will convince the most skeptical farmer af the wisdom of the 
system. The fertilized half has been built up 400 to 500 per cent, in eleven 
years, while that without fertilizer has gained twelve to twenty-tive per cent. 
It should be the aim of every farmer to so handle his land as to make it grow 
richer instead of poorer. By this system it can be done, and at the same time 
getting better cro])s and profits. It is of s])ecial interest to note that the plat 
on which no fertilizers were used, in 1889 made seven and a half bushels of 
oats per acre, and 4.22 tons of gpeen pea vines; the second year after, when it 
came again in oats, made 25.5 bushels oats, 81 fi pounds of straw, 24 tons of 
pea vines, the increase being simply due to the rotation and the peas. 

An examination of the results will show the immense advantages to be 
derived from the moderate use of the proper fertilizers in the rotation. 
Incidentally it may be observed that each bushel of corn will give about 70 
pounds of stover, which, when cured, is a most excellent forage foi- cattle, 
sheep and horses. The report would have beeu far more valuable and exact 
if the result from the use of fertilizers on each plat had been given as com- 
pared with the corresponding unfertilized plat and the cost of the gain com- 

Some Station Investigations in Fertiltzers — 297 

pared. The only statement given is that in one very dry season when the 
fertilized plat made over ten bushels per acre the unfertilized plat did not 
make even a nubbin. But we are not informed whether the ten bushels on 
the fertilized plat paid the expenses. If it accorded with the experience of 
the writer it did not. While there is certainly shown a gratifying increase 
in the crops on the land, and the rotation is the same that this writer has 
been advocating for the cotton growers of the South for many years, it would 
be interesting to have such a course of fertilization for every crop grown 
compared wath the same rotation in which no fertilizer is used except a liberal 
application of mineral fertilizers to the pea crop following the oats, and all 
the home-made manures and cotton seed are applied broadcast to the corn 
field. From our own experience and that of some others whom we have in- 
duced to try the plan we feel sure that in the financial profit, if not in the ag- 
gregate results, this last plan would make a far better showing than the fer- 
tilization of every crop in the rotation. The bulletin does not give any infor- 
mation in regard to the use made of the pea vines. If simply used as manure 
direct, there was a serious loss as compared with the feeding and returning 
to the soil of the resulting manure. What the Southern farmer needs to 
learn more than the mere use of commercial fertilizers is that there is a profit 
to him and a larger profit to his farm, through the feeding of all forage grown 
on it. There will be a greater and more valuable accumulation of humus 
in the soil through the feeding of the peas and corn stover than in any other 
way in which they can be used, as the resulting manure from the straw, peas 
and corn stover of two fields would be added to one of them to go into corn. 
Another fault in the rotation is that there is nothing to come in between the 
cotton and the corn, and our Southern soil especially needs a green winter 
cover as a nitrogen trap ; even rye will do better than nothing, and will at 
least add more to the humus accumulation on the corn field. With this modi- 
fication and the use of a larger application of phosphoric acid and potash to 
the pea crop, and no further fertilization with purchased plant food, this 
throe year rotation will do more for the building up of the Southern soil 
and the prosperity of the Southern farmer than any course we can devise. 



There are in the manufacture of fertilizers today, men who are as hon- 
orable and correct in all their dealings as those in any other line of business, 
but in States where the fertilizer laws are not as strict, or are not as strictly 
enforced, as they should be, there are those in the fertilizer business (as in 
every other line of human effort), whose object is to live by their wits, and to 
give as little as possible for the money they receive. If the law and the in- 
spectors do not watch for him, the farmer is perfectly helpless to discover 
these frauds. If the stuff has a rank smell he is apt to conclude that it is a 
good article, when it may not be worth hauling home. Owing to the increas- 
ing stringency of the fertilizer laws, there is less of fraud in fertilizers than 
formerly, but the rogues are still about, and the farmer should take care in 
the purchase of fertilizers to deal with men of established reputation in busi- 
ness affairs. It is far better to pay what may seem a high price for an article 
of proved merit than to get a mixture at an apparently low price in which you 
will pay a high price for all that is valuable in it and then have to freight a 
lot of utterly worthless stuff put in to make weight and to make the price 
look low. There is hardly a manufacturer who will not make for customers 
any particular description of fertilizer mixture, and in many cases it uuiy be 
better to get the mixture made according to your formula than to make it 
yourself. But it is not of the honorable fertilizer manufacturer we would 
speak now. It is of the rogues and their dodges. 


One of the most common frauds is the man who has a fertilizer formula 
for sale. We struck one of these fellows recently, in Nortli Carolina. A cor- 
respondent wrote to us that there was a man in his section selling a formula 
and farm rights for $3.00, and he sent me the secret, asking my opinion in 
regard to it. The wliol{> thing was a mixture of a few well known chemicals 
used in mixing fertilizers. These were to l)e mixed with a certain quantity 


Frauds in Fertilizers — 299 

of stable manure, and lime and woods earth, and the resulting mixture was 
claimed to be equal to any fertilizer sold and the cost was to be but $4 per ton. 
T explained to my correspondent the result of mixing sulphate of ammonia, 
and stable manure with lime, and published the fraud in one of the State 
papers. The editor soon got a letter from the "professor" enclosing one of 
his circulars and saying that I had attacked him and he wanted space for an 
answer. Since I had simply shown up the article he was selling and knew 
nothing of the man, the editor did not notice his request, but sent me the 
circular. In this he states that a certain noted chemist (himself) had made 
a wonderful discovery, which had astonished the scientific world, and that 
the process would put millions in the farmers' pockets, when, in fact, the self 
styled professor had never been heard of as a chemist, and the scientific world 
had never been astonished at his mixture. But this fellow doubtless sold hun- 
dreds of dollars' worth of his recipes to men who could not afford to take a 
paper, and who did not get the Station bulletins, and did not know that the 
Stations are always ready to furnish practicable formulas for fertilizers with- 
out charge. These compost peddlers seem to have found a rich field in the 
South, for the same thing was tried here several years ago, and the Xorth 
Carolina Experiment Station at that time issued a bulletin of warning to the 
farmers. But the men who bought "farm rights" from the last man had not, 
of course, read that bulletin. 

"natural plant food."' 

Some years ago we received a circular from another correspondent,^giv- 
ing an account of another wonderful discovery, which was the natural food 
of plants. The circular gave the following analysis of this wonderful article. 
It was evidently gotten up for the purpose of bewildering the farmer, and I 
wrote to my correspondent that the article was simply pulverized phosphate 
rock and green sand marl, as was evident from the analysis. 

It read as follows: 

Per cent. 

Phosphoric acid. Total (P205) 21.60 to 29.49 

Equivalent to bone phosphate of lime 27.20 to 64.38 

Potash, (K20) from glauconite 1.00 to 2.00 

Equivalent to common sulfate of potash 2.00 to 4.00 

Silicic acid (S102) 5.26 to 8.10 

Carbonic acid (C02) 2.07 to 3.00 

Lime (CaO) 29.16 to 32.00 

Magnesia (MgO) and soda (Na20) 3.21 to 8.05 

Aluminic (A1203) and ferric (Fe203) oxids. . 5.14 to 10.26 

300 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

All this looked exceedingly learned and chemical, and the farmer, know- 
ing nothing under the sun about the meaning of all this array of symbols and 
figures is totally uninformed as to the nature of the stuff. The circular 
stated all these things were available to plants in the soil. The mixture was 
sold all the way from $20 to $28 per ton, according to locality. The New 
York Station took up the examination of the article in a bulletin, and showed 
that it contained in a ton but 28 pounds of available phosphoric acid and 
2.6 to 4.5 pounds of jjotash, and at trade values for these, a ton of the great 
natural plant food was worth $1.52. 

This fraud, which was simply, as was evident from the analysis, a pul- 
verized phosphate rock and green sand marl (glauconite) has been so fully 
exposed that nothing has of late been heard of it. 

iVll that a farmer needs to know in regard to any fertilizer mixture is 
how much nitrogen, phosphoric acid (in an available form) and potash it con- 
tains. That a certain percentage of phosphoric acid is equivalent to what would 
be contained in another com))ination, such as bone phosphate of lime, has 
nothing to do with the matter, and is only put there to make the farmer think 
there are bones in it; as these fellows know that most farmers have a high 
opinion of the value of bones, though they know that the article has no bone 
in it whatever. They also know that farmers consider sulphate of potash the 
best form, and hence they say that the percentage of potash in their stuff is 
the same amount that would be found in a certain amount of sulphate of pot- 
ash, while there is not a particle of sulphate in the stuff. 

^So far has this hal)it of putting "equivalent to," on the sacks obtained, 
that firms that should know and do better sometimes add these meaningless 
figures. 1 have before me a sample of "Pure Raw Bone." The analysis 
printed on it says: "Ammonia, 3.65 to 4.15 per cent.; phosphoric acid, 22.00 
to 24 per cent., equivalent to bone phosphate of lime, 48.00 to 52.00 per cent." 

This simply means that the article contains about 3 per cent, of nitrogen 
and 22 per cent, of insoluble phosphoric acid. Fertilizer manufacturers 
have always put the nitrogen content on their sacks in the form of ammonia, 
because as they say, "the farmers understand ammonia but not nitrogen.*' 
How it is easier for a farmer to understand a combination than a simple ele- 
ment we cannot understand. The figures are put there simply because they 
look larger in thv form of ammonia, a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen, 
than they would if only the actual nitrogen was printed. The 3.65 per cent, 
of ammonia is simply 3 per cent, nitrogen Imt it looks larger 
to put on the combination figures, and so the practice has grown. 
The above analysis does not show a very high grade of raw bone 
meal, and the sliding scale is deceptive also, as it gives the 

Frauds in Fertilizers — 301 

dealer a loophole to crawl out of. The law in North Carolina 

does not allow a manufacturer to say 3. 65 to 4.15 per cent. He must give the 
lowest percentage he claims and no more, and this law also requires that noth- 
ing he printed on the sacks except the percentages of nitrogen, available phos- 
|)horic acid and potash. Only this and nothing more, unless, as is proposed, 
the source from which the constituents are derived be added. 

In some of the States no value is allowed for insoluble phosphoric acid, 
while in others it is valued at 2 cents per pound. In regard to this we quote 
from Dr. Kobcrts's book on the "Fertility of Land.'' He gives a table show- 
ing that "the average of forty-nine soil analyses shows that more than 4,000 
pounds per acre of phosphoric acid are contained in the first eight inches 
of surface soil, the larger part of which, presumably, is insoluble under pres- 
ent methods of tillage. Would it be wise or profitable to purchase, at 2 cents 
per pound, additional insolul)le phosphoric acid, when the soil contains such 
vast stores of this low grade plant food ? True, a part of the so-called insolu- 
ble phosphoric acid may become available and produce beneficial results, but 
since the soil is usually abundantly supplied with the same kind of material, 
would it not be wiser to make it available by tillage than to purchase more 
of this lazy plant food?" 

We quote the above largely because there has been special effort to put 
insoluble phosphoric acid on the market in the form of "floats," or pulverized 
phosphatic rock, and the soft phosphates of Florida, which are not adapted to 
the making of acid phosphate. There is abundant evidence, however, that 
on some soils these insoluble forms of phosphoric acid do produce good results, 
though seldom on the immediate crop. If offered at a reasonably low price 
there is nothing fraudulent in the selling of these articles to the farmer, pro- 
vided a fair price is charged for the same. It would be noted that the value 
to the farmer of insoluble phosphoric acid depends largely in the material 
that carries it. In ground raw bones, the phosphoric acid is in an insoluble 
form, but the material decays rapidly in the soil, when finely ground, and the 
acid becomes available more quickly than that in the rock phosphate, but the 
chances are the farmer will have to pay more for it than if he could buy solu- 
ble phosphoric acid in a superphosphate. 

As we have before remarked, the frauds in fertilizers are becoming fewer 
annually, as the laws of the different States become more stringent and are 
more strictly enforced. In the Cotton States, where fertilizers have long been 
eold in immense quantities, the laws are better than in those States where the 
use of these has but recently begun, and there should be some united effort 
on the part of those in control of the fertilizer inspection in the various States 
to get uniformly good laws and to enforce them. These laws are as much 

302 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

for the benefit of the honest manufacturer as the farmer, for he has to con- 
tend with an unfair competition. 

Recently the peddlers of secret formulas for fertilizer mixtures have 
been ver}^ active in the South, where the farmers buy fertilizers largely, and, 
by extravagant tales of what their fertilizers will do and the cheapness of the 
mixtures, they have been able to sell a good numy of their recipes to those 
who think they cannot afford to take a paper, and who never think of calling 
on their Experiment Station for the proper formula, which they could get 
free of charge. One of the most recent circulars issued by these humbugs 
and sold to farmers reads as follows : 


Recipe price. 15.00. 

The greatest fertilizer known for the farmer. 

Results much better from using the home fertilizer than any other made. 

Cost, 13.00 per ton. 
Box to hold one ton four feet square. 


No. 1. Stable manure one inch thick. 
No. 2. Chemicals one gallon on layer. 
No. 3. Lime one-eighth of an inch thick. 
No. 4. New dnt one inch thick. 
No. 5 Ashes one-half mch thick. 
No. 6. Salt 60 pounds per ton. 

Potash. 8 pounds; nitrate of soda. 4 pounds, eoperas, 4 pounds, 
muriate of ammonia, 12 pounds, phosphate acid, 5 pounds Mix 
with 12 gallons of warm water 


The name of the concocter of this mixture is not given, but at the bot- 
tom is written "John Green, Agent, from Sullivan Co. Tenn." Now as to 
the ingredients of the mixture. Muriate of ammonia is never used for fer- 
tilizing purposes, for the nitrogen in it can be had far more cheaply in other 
forms. The chemicals are to l)e mixed with warm water. This would make 
the ammonia be set free by the potash, and lie lost. Copperas (which the 
ignoramus spells "coperas") is the sulphate of iron and of no use as a fertil- 
izer. Nitrate of soda is, of course, valuable, but it, too, would be lost in the 
mixture, and if not, the amount of it in the ton would, as one chemist has 
said, be about equal to three dead cats per acre. Commercial potash is not 
used as a fertilizer ingredient, since its caustic properties would set ammonia 
free, and the lime would not only have this effect but would revert the little 

Frauds in Fertilizers — 303 

phosphoric acid in the mixture. The salt is of no value whatever as a fertil- 
izer, and the ashes would have the effect of releasing the ammonia in the sta- 
hle manure, with only the "new dirt" to catch it. One ton of this mixture 
would contain about 7 pounds of phosphoric acid. G pounds of nitrogen (if 
it did not get away) and 22 pounds of potash. As an average commercial 
fertilizer contains about 170 pounds of available phosphoric acid, 50 pounds 
of nitrogen and 45 pounds of potash, the bulletin of the North Carolina Sta- 
tion, from which we get these facts, well remarks that it would take over two 
tons of (he home fertilizer to furnish the potash in one ton of the average 
conmiercial I'ertilzer, over eight tons to furnish the nitrogen and over twenty- 
four tons to furnish the phosphoric acid. Those who read this, or the bulle- 
tin of the Morth Carolina Station, will hardly be swindled out of their $5 

The same bulletin, No. 173, of the North Carolina Experiment Station, 
of the College of Agriculture and iMechanic Arts, gives the following won- 
derful circular, the original of which is embellished with a portrait of "Col. 
1. J. Britain, Inventor, Winston, N. C," and is as follows: 




"First dig a stable pit size of stall or stable three feet deep. After dig- 
ging the pit take a rich loamy soil, or swamp muck. After being good and 
dry place in the pit to the depth of six inches, then place a thin layer of 
tobacco stalks, rotten straw or cotton seed. Then apply liberally by hand 
over the entire surface of the pit, the following compound or mixture: 

"Twenty-five pounds saltpetre, one bushel of common salt and one quart 
of carbolic acid, one gallon on each layer of the rich soil. Then dilute the 
carbolic acid in ten times the amount of water, and sprinkle each layer. 
Then fill in another layer of rich soil and straw, and apply another sprinkle of 
the compound, and continue as above stated six inches of loam and another 
sprinkle of compound until the pit is filled to the surface of the ground. 
Then floor the stall or stable by laying small poles on the compound and 
floor the stable. The stock should be kept in the stall six months. The 
drainage of tlie stock and stall adds a great deal to the compound. This is 
the single process of compounding the Farmers Compound Fertilizer. 

"Then construct alongside of stables a pen or pens with water tight floor, 
slanting dovraward. Place a V trough by the side of pens to catch the con- 

304 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

tents of said pen and run off in a barrel. Fill the pens with barnyard, chip 
manure, tobacco stalks or any rubbish, leave the pens uncovered. Construct 
by trough, the water from eaves of barn or stables into the pens. Care should 
be taken not to let too much water go into the pens. Thus you have a com- 
plete leaching system. When the barrels are filled with lye from the pens 
it should be poured in stall or stable and sink into the pit with the com- 
pound. This is the double process of manufacturing the Farmers Com- 
pound Fertilizer. 


amonia from the air. Established by which the amonia phosphoric acid and 
Potash from the solid manure, is conducted into the pit under the stall or 
stables and is there joined by the same ingredients in a safer and more abund- 
ant form, from the liquid manure deposited by the stock : making a powerful 
and available plant food in a much more concentrated and availible form than 
is found in high priced commercial fertilizers. At the end of six months 
your pits are ready to throw out, the contents of which has by this time be- 
come out as black as ink and as strong as lye. If you now want to use this 
through a drill it will be necessary to dry by spreading thinly on barn lot or 
floor and run through a sieve, or what is better, if you have one, an old fan- 
ning mill. If you wish to use in the drill on any crop when a drill is not nec- 
essary the drying sieving may be dispensed with. An ordinary stable, say 
10x14 feet will furnish 200 bushels of the compound sufficient to fertilize 
30,000 hills of tobacco or twenty acres of wheat with the highest grade fer- 
tilizer known to science. The public is warned not to infringe upon my in- 
vention unless they are authorized ])y myself or lawful agents, for my rights 
must be respected. 

Copyright secured. 


We have copied this singular circular in full, spelling, punctuation and 
all, to show with what sort of stuff some men try to fool farmers The bulletin 
well says that the prominent statement that "stock in the stall is a good con- 
ductor of amonia from the air" is not true. Neither is the statement that 
the result of all this waste of time and labor is a powerful and available plant 
food in a much more concentrated form than is found in high priced fertil- 
izers, true. Still further from the truth is the statement that the mixture 
is "the highest grade fertilizer known to science," for it is nothing of the sort. 
Inquiry of the Librarian of Congress reveals the fact that their indexes do not 

Frauds in Fertilizers — 305 

show any entry of a copyright for the process of compounding the Farmers' 
Compound Fertilizer by I. J. Britain. The directions are a jumble which no 
one can follow. He uses 25 pounds of saltpetre., or nitrate of potash The 
nitrogen and potash can be had in far cheaper forms. The bushel of common 
salt is of no use whatever. Carbolic acid is used, and this is of no value as 
plant food, and, in fact, would be a preservative from decay and a hindrance 
to germination. But the whole process is so absurd and wasteful of time and 
lal)or that it would seem it is only needed to state it to see this. But many 
simple minded folks are annually caught by just such pretenders, and our 
lists of humlnigs would hardly be complete without this one, which flourishes 
close to the home of the author. 

The way to deal with all these secret process fellows is to report them at 
once to your Experiment Station, and their secret will be gotten, and pub- 
lished and shown up in its true colors. There is not a Station in any of the 
States that will not furnish, free of charge, correct formulas for the mixing 
of concentrated fertilizers to the farmers of the State on application. As we 
have said, it is the men who do not read and do not take the agricultural 
papers who get caught with these baits, and pay far more than the correct 
information to be gained by reading would cost them. 



The great extension southward of the culture of the strawberry as a mar- 
ket crop has made its proper fertilization a matter of great importance to the 
growers. There is now a reguhir succession of the strawberry, from the earli- 
est that come from Florida to the latest that reach the great cities of the 
North from points north of their latitude. At the distant j^oints the growers 
are, of course, entirely dependent upon commercial fertilizers for the produc- 
tion of the crop, and they have found that the strawberry needs liberal feed- 
ing. Fortunately the soils on M'liich the strawberry thrives best are also the 
soils on which commercial fertilizers have their best effect. Low, flat lands, 
where the permanent moisture is not far below the surface, and where the 
soil is well filled with humus, are always the best soils for the strawberry, 
and even where they seem less fertile than the dry uplands they will produce 
better crops of strawberries simply by reason of the presence of moisture al- 
ways in reach. Not that strawberry lands should not be well drained, but 
that the soil should have the water table not too far down, so that capillary 
moisture can always be depended upon. 


As in most fruits and vegetables potash plays an important part in the 
production of the fruit of the strawberry, while phosphoric acid is the con- 
trolling factor in the growth of the plants and the maturity and firmness of 
the fruit. While a due percentage of nitrogen is needed for a luxuriant 
growth, an excess of this element will be apt to cause the fruit to be soft, and 
to carry badly. We can see, therefore, that the crop demands a well propor- 
tioned complete fertilizer in which, with a due percentage of nitrogen there 


The Strawberry as a Field Crop — 307 

will be an abundant supply of phosphoric acid and potash. As the plant 
analysis shows the need of the plant for potash, and the soils in which the 
market culture of the strawberry, in the South especially, are deficient in this 
constituent, the percentage and form of the potash becomes an important 
matter to the strawberry grower. While nitrogen is an important element, 
we are of the opinion that the growing of a crop of cow peas" the summer be- 
fore planting the strawberries will usually supply a sufficient amount of ni- 
trogen for the first growth of the plants, and that subsequent growth can be 
maintained by top dressings of nitrate of soda. The growing of the peas 
will not only supply nitrogen forming organic matter, but will make a profita- 
ble forage crop to precede the strawberries, and a large part of the phosphoric 
acid and potash needed by the strawberries, can be advantageously applied to 
the pea crop to encourage its growth, and to enable the plant to do the great- 
est possible amount of nitrogen catching for the strawberries. The common 
practice of the strawberry growers in the South is to set the plants in August 
or September, and to heavily fertilize the ground so as to get a fair crop of 
fruit the following spring. In the spring, as growth begins, a top dress- 
ing of nitrate of soda is added. The plants are allowed to mat along the rows, 
and to bear a crop the following year, after which they are plowed under. 
In this system a field is planted every 3^ear, so as to have always one to turn 
under after the crop is off. But owing to the fact that there is apt to be long 
continued dry weather at the time usually selected for planting, many growers 
are making a practice of setting later in the fall, even in November and De- 
cember whenever the ground is not actually frozen. In the North, there is no 
doubt we believe that spring is the best time to set the plants, but here our 
finest success has been from November setting. We once set a patch of straw- 
berries in November and cold weather set in at once, but no harm was done, 
and much to my surprise the plants set a very good crop of fruit in the spring, 
and were so well grown that we allowed it to ripen. If we were at all certain 
of seasonable weather in September, we would prefer that month for the set- 
ting to any other, but we are usually compelled by reason of the drought to 
be later in setting. 

Fertilizer formula for the strawberry : Acid phosphate, 900 pounds ; cotton 
seed meal, 700 pounds ; nitrate of soda, 200 pounds ; sulphate of potash, 200 
pounds. Of this the best growers would use not less than 1,000 pounds per 
acre, on land where no previous crop of peas has been grown. Where a 
growth of dead pea vines has been plowed under, the amount of organic 
nitrogen in the shape of cotton seed meal can be dispensed with ; and the ni- 
trate of soda should be reserved for the spring dressing where the plants are 
set late in the fall. 

308 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

forcing the strawberry. 

There is no fruit so easily and profitably forced under glass in winter 
as the strawberry. But let no inexperienced person suppose that a 
strawberry plant can be taken up in the fall, placed under glass and given 
a forcing tempei-ature and succeed. For the purpose of forcing, the plants 
need to be grown for months previous, and properly handled so as to make 
strong crowns that will bloom and fruit well. We always force strawberries 
in six-inch flower pots. We begin with the first rooted runners in early sum- 
mer. As soon as these have started to form white roots an inch long we take 
them up and set them in three-inch pots, in the ordinary compost of rotted 
sods and manure which we use for general greenhouse potting. The plants 
pre set in a frame on a bed of coal ashes to prevent the earth worms from get- 
ting in, and are shaded with lath screens in place of sashes, thus giving them 
a varying shade and sunlight ; and special attention is given to the supplying 
of the plants with water. As soon as the roots have matted around the balls 
of earth in these pots, they are transferred to the 4-inch size, replaced in the 
frame and treated as before. Then, as soon as the 4-inch pots are well 
filled with roots, they are again repotted into six-inch pots in which they will 
be fruited. These pots are now plunged to the rim in the coal ashes and at- 
tended to carefully. As the pots get well filled with roots some liquid ma- 
manure is applied, once a week, to encourage a luxuriant growth and to aid in 
the formation of strong crowns, for no weak plant can be successfully forced. 
As cold weather approaches less water is given, the plants are allowed to be- 
come semi-dormant, and are allowed to be exposed to the frost for a while, 
since the forcing must be preceded by a short period of rest. The first plants 
are put in the houses in December. All the old leaves are trimmed off, the 
plants well watered and started in growth with a night temperature of about 
45 degrees, and kept moderately cool in day time. As they begin a new 
growth we give, once a week, a watering with a solution of an ounce of nitrate 
of soda to four gallons of water, taking care to apply it only when the plants 
are moist at the root and not when needing water, and to pour it on the soil 
and not over the foliage. See that the drainage of the pots is right so that the 
abundant watering that is needed will not sour the soil. The side bench of 
the house near the glass is the best position for the plants. As the l)lossoms 
appear it is well to brush them over daily at noon with a camel's hair brush, 
lo insure fertilization ; and no variety should be forced unless it has perfect 
flowers, and it is naturally an early bloomer in the open ground. Flowers 
of sulphur dusted on the hot water pipes is valuable for keeping down fungus 
troubles. Do not pack the pots so closely as to touch each other, but have a 

The Strawberry as a Field Crop — 309 

space of two inches around every pot. Carefully avoid watering overhead, 
on the whole plant, when blooming, Init always apply water by pouring it 
under the leaves. When well grown, and the variety is a good one, the crop 
vshould be a profitable one. They are sold in paper boxes holding half a pint. 
We have found, as with the tomato, that bone dust added to the soil is better 
than stable manure, though the ordinary potting compost, if old and well 
rotted, answers very well. If earth worms get into the pots they will paste 
the soil together and cause it to sour. If there is evidence of their presence 
pour a little lime water on the pot to draw them out, and at the same time 
sweeten the soil. The plants that have been forced in winter can be planted 
in the open ground in the spring and will make a late crop there as they get 
into growth. During their growth in preparation during summer, and in the 
house in winter, it is needless to add that no runners should be allowed to 
grow; and the keeping of them off will be one of the chief attentions needed 
in the preparation of the plants, aside from keeping the pots watered and 
free from weeds. 



The requirements of these are so similar that we treat them together. 
Both are fond of a comparatively heavy loam, but are not very particular as 
to soil, provided it is in a fertile condition and well supplied with humus. 
Plants of the red raspberry and the blackberry should always be grown from 
root cuttings, as such plants are far better than those from the suckers around 
the old plants. The black caps are grown from tips of the canes, which 
should be buried along the rows after the growth of the season is about ma- 
ture. The running blackberry (or dewberry) can be grown in the same man- 
ner. We set the plants in rows six feet apart and three feet in the rows, and 
train to stakes, or to a single wire stretched from the stakes about four feet 
from the ground. Dewberries should be allowed to trail along on the ground 
along the rows the first season, and should not be tied up until the spring they 
are to fruit. The best way to train them is to set forked stakes about two 
feet from the ground, and lay slender poles like hoop poles from stake to stake 
to which to tie the vines. These poles are better than wires, as the wire is 
apt to chafe and cut the canes. After the fruit is gathered, cut away the old 
canes and train out as many new ones from each stool as are sufficient, and 
train them along the rows out of the way of cultivation and injury. 


If the growing of peas or clover previous to the strawberry crop is desira- 
ble, it is far more so with the blackberry and the raspberry, and success will 
not be certain with these unless the soil is kept well supplied with organic 
matter. As they will keep the ground longer than the strawberry this is 
one of the points to look after during their growth. We have found it a great 
advantage to plant a single row of cow peas between the rows of blackberries, 
after the fruiting season is over, and to cultivate them as long as it is practi- 
cable, letting the whole growth die on the land to be plowed under in the 


Blackberries and Raspberries — 311 

spring. Treated in this way there will be no need for the application of 
nitrogenous fertilizers, but a fair supply of the mineral elements should be 
given annually, making the mixture about 4 parts of acid phosphate to one 
of sulphate of potash. Allow no more canes to grow in the hill than can 
have room for full development, and shorten them back annually, or, what is 
better, pinch in summer to induce the growth of side shoots and to make 
bushy canes. 


Many growers depend on the suckers from the base of the blackberry and 
red raspberry plants for planting. But it will be found that far better plants 
can be grown from cuttings of the roots made in the fall. We make these 
cuttings about three inches long, mix them in moist sand in boxes and bury 
the boxes outdoors during the winter, with a mound of earth over them to 
prevent access of water. They remain there till early spring and are then 
planted in the open ground in rows wide enough for horse cultivation, and 
dropped about four inches in the rows. These root cuttings make a strong 
growth during the summer, and are far better plants than those cut from 
the old plants as suckers. With new and rare varieties that are high priced 
we have adopted another and more rapid way. Years ago when there was a 
furor over the Herstine raspberry a friend l)ought two large plants for which 
he paid $5. He received them late in the fall and asked me how lie had better 
treat them. I told him that if he would give me the plants T would propagate 
them and give him one-half tlie plants I made, as I thought I could put him 
just as far ahead in the spring as with the plants he had. He brought me 
ihe plants, which were very fine ones, with long roots. These were cut into 
pieces about an inch long, placed thickly in shallow boxes of light soil, and 
covered half an inch. The boxes were then ])laeed on the propagating bench 
in the greenhouse, where there was a good bottom heat. There they started 
rapidly and as soon as leaves develo]ied were set in two and a half inch pots, 
with the ordinary potting eom]iost, and placed in a cool greenhouse, and a lit- 
tle later were shifted into three-inch pots. By the time frost was over in the 
spring T had 250 strong plants with tops a foot or more high, and these, 
planted in the open ground, each, during the summer, made a plant as strong 
as we would have had from the original plant had it been set, and we had 
250 plants instead of two for the $5. Of course, with raspl)erry plants at the 
usual price per thousand it would hardly pay to adopt this method, but with 
plants selling at fancy prices it will enal)lo the grower to get a stock in advance 
of the lower rates. Blackberries nre j-ropagated from root cuttings in the 
same way as red raspberries. 

312 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

Blackcap raspberries are grown from the tips of the canes, which are 
covered with soil in summer and by fall have formed a strong plant, which 
can be then separated from the cane. Some of the blackberry family, such 
as the dewberry, are also grown from the tips. Raspberries are far more diffi- 
cult to grow in the South than they are in the North, and require for their 
best success a moist soil and partial shade during the heat of the day. The 
blackcaps are far more certain croppers in the South than the red raspberries, 
but the red varieties can be grown if attention is paid to the summer pinching 
of the canes to induce a bushy growth, for if long canes are exposed to the sun 
they will certainly be killed. 

The Michigan Experiment Station has pul)lished a descriptive catalogue 
of over 400 varieties of raspberries, which those interested can get for con- 



After years of patient experiment in the growing of grapes with commer- 
cial fertilizers on a soil nearly pure sand, we think that we have learned some- 
thing in regard to the food necessities of the vine. The soil of the sand hills 
of Southern Xorth Carolina was selected for the series of experiments car- 
ried on to determine the food requirements of various fruits and tobacco for 
the very reason that the soil was nearly a barren sand and had never been in 
rultivation, and hence was not altered by manuring. These experiments 
were conducted by the North Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station 
through a series of years, and were managed with the most minute care to 
avoid any source of error. The land was cleared from the original pine 
forest, and every stump was dug up and hauled off the land, since the burning 
would have made changes in the food content of portions of the land, and 
this we aimed to avoid. The little humus that would naturally have collected 
in a forest had been regularly destroyed by the forest fires which annually 
ravaged that section. The forest growth was long leaf pine and scrub oak, 
and between these the land was covered with the tall growth of wire grass 
(Aristida Stricta), the great feeder of the fires. This sand hill region has 
been found peculiarly favorable as a winter home for people suffering from 
throat and lung diseases, and considerable settlements have grown up with 
hotels for the transient guests, and many homes of those who have found 
health there and have remained to make permanent homes. These 
residents made some experiments in fruit culture, at first only with grapes, 
and they found that with the aid of fertilizers the apparently barren sand 
grew grapes in wonderful profusion and of remarkably fine quality. Later 
on other fruits were attempted, and now the peach is the leading market fruit. 
The experiments were inaugurated for the purpose of studying the needs of 
the various fruits as to food, and to show the growers how most economically 
to grow the fruit. Of course the amounts applied on such a soil are no indi- 
cation of what should be applied on a different soil and in a different climate. 


314 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

Still, the evidence is that trees and vines, like other plants, need a proper pro- 
portion of all the leading forms of plant food usually deficient in many 
soils. The same question arises in the fertilzation of fruit trees and grape 
vines as with the annual crops. How shall we accomplish their feeding in the 
best and most economical manner, and what forms of plant food are most 
generally needed by orchard and vineyard products? We think that our ex- 
})erience has taught us something in this regard. 


A study of the tables in the appendix to this book will show that in the 
leaves of the apple and the whole structure of the tree, the chief needs are 
nitrogen and potash, while in the fruit potash takes the lead, and phosphoric 
acid cuts a small figure. The complaint is general in most parts of the 
country, that apples do not grow as they formerly did. Men keep an apple 
orchard and make a hay field or a pasture of it, and expect the soil to continue 
to give them fruit while in every crop they are taking away from the soil the 
plant food the trees need. It is easy to convince farmers of the need for using 
fertilizers on their wheat, oats and corn crops, but most of them seem to im- 
agine that an apple tree does not need feeding, but can take care of itself 
like the trees of the forest. The great reason for the failure of apples where 
they once did well is the depletion of the soil of the mineral matters which the 
trees need. 

A crop of apples of fair proportions will remove more potash from the 
soil than three good crops of wheat. No farmer would be surprised that 
wheat finally fails to grow on land receiving no fertilizer, but the id^'a of ap- 
plying fertilizers to apple trees never seems to occur to them. Thei'c are 
endless theories in regard to the proper method of planting, pruning and feed- 
ing apple trees. Some prominent authorities insist that deep plowing during 
the whole of the tree's existence is essential to succcess, and point to the old 
apple orchards in sod as examples of bad treatment. To some extent they are 
right, for the common method of keeping orchards in sod for the purpose of 
pasturage or mowing hay from them is certainly an evil practice. But there 
is a right way and a wrong way of keeping trees in sod, as we will endeavor 
to show. 


The most common mistake made at the start is in planting trees too old. 
Nurserymen commonly root-graft apples in winter, and set them in nursery 
rows in the spring. The first season's growth in the nursery is a tall, straight 

Fkhtilizkrs in the Vineyard and Orchard — 315 

stem with few or no hranches. The man who wishies to do the best with his 
orchard will select these "'maiden," or one-year-old trees for setting. There 
are several advantages in this. The trees can be had for less money than 
the two or three year trees commonly planted. The planter can start the head 
of his trees uniformly, just where he wants to start it, and the young tree, 
not being crowdetl in a nursery row, can develop a head of proper proportions, 
and by the time it has reached the age at which most people want to plant 
from the nursery it is a far larger and better proi)ortioned tree than the one 
left in the nursery row. The nurseryman heads back the trees in his rows 
the second year, but he does not head them down so low as they should be in 
the orchard ; and when we plant a two or three year old tree we generally have 
an ill shaped head started, and started where we do not want it. The result 
is that if we are to get the uniformity of head we want there must be a great 
deal harder pruning done at planting time, and the trees are never as symmet- 
rical as they would have been had they been planted as yearlings and properly 

Writers on fruit culture have various notions as to what should be the 
method used in starting a tree in the orchard. Many insist that the central 
si em should never be shortened, while others would head back as the nursery- 
men do, and form an open headed tree. We certainly prefer this plan. 

Five years ago we planted two apple trees of the same variety within 30 
feet of each other. The trees were planted in a close sod and have never 
had any cultivation. They are in a soil of fair f •rtility and on a lawn near 
a dwelling. One tree at planting was headed back to the point where we 
wished the head to start; the other had the leading shoot left, and the side 
branches merely shortened. Both have been properly pruned to keep the head 
clear of becoming a tangle of shoots, and both have grown fairly well. But 
the tree headed back and formed into a round, open head has far outstripped 
the other, is now about twice the size and bearing apples, while the other has 
not reached this stage. The headed back tree has a trunk of not over 20 inches 
from the ground. The other has a trunk of four feet. Tiie growth of the 
tree headed back has been rather phenomenal, and is fully as great as that 
of trees set at same time in the orchard and kept cultivated annually. But 
the lawn where it stands has merely been mown, and nothing has been re- 
moved from the soil. All the grass decays where it falls, and no manure of 
any kind has been given to either tree, but there will be some applied now that 
they are getting into bearing. Tt seems evident, however, that the decaying 
organic matter from the grass has furnished the trees all the nitrogen they 
needed, since all the organic matter produced has been returned to the soil, and 
they will need only light dressings of acid phosphate and plenty of potash. I 

31G — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

said they had had no manure, but they liave been twice limed, and this has, 
of course, helped in the nitrification of the organic matter, and in the release 
of potash from the clay soil in which they stand. 

Still, while it is evident that apple trees can be planted in sod and do 
well, we do not think that this one instance warrants us in recommending the 
general planting of apple trees in sod. What we want in the young tree for 
the first years of its life is vigorous growth, and as a rule this is promoted 
by good cultivation and manuring. But we do object to the advice given by 
a prominent writer on orcharding, to plow and cultivate the orchard deeply 
so as to force the roots down in the soil. We prefer to woriv all plants shal- 
lowly, so as to keep the roots in the best soil and in reach of the influences of 
the air and fertilizers, and not to force the roots of trees down into the unim- 
proved and unaerated subsoil. If the roots are forced down by deep cultiva- 
tion there must inevitably be a great loss of the fertilizing matters applied 
before the deep set roots can get the benefit of them. Prepare the soil deeply 
and well before planting and then cultivate sliallowly, every summer till 
July, until the trees get into a bearing state, and then put the orchard in 
grass and treat it as you would a lawn, by frequent mowing and letting the 
cut grass lie to help the trees. In short, plant and grow an apple orchard 
for apples alone, and you will get them. 


Having selected one-year-old trees with a single stem, we prune all the 
roots that have become in any way bruised or broken in digging, and cut 
off all the fibrous roots, as they are commonly dried up. Make the holes 
no deeper than the plowing was done, for a deep hole in the hard subsoil will 
simply be a reservoir for the water to settle in and damage the roots. Put 
no manure of any kind around the roots of a young tree, but simi)ly put the 
surface soil in the bottom and work it in among the roots, and then ram the 
earth as though you were setting a post. Never pour water in the holes to 
settle the earth, for the wet earth will crack and admit air in drying. A good 
ramming of moderately dry soil is all that is needed. In the North it is 
probable that spring planting will be best, but anywhere south of Pennsyl- 
vania we would, as a rule, set trees in the fall. Nurserymen advise planters 
to get the trees in the fall, even if they set them in the spring, and heel them 
in ready for planting; the recommendation is mainly for the convenience 
of the nurserymen, for we had rather plant than heel in. 

. Having set the trees, the next thing is to head them back to the point 
where you wish the head to start. Low headed orchard trees are best in any 
locality, and south of the Potomac no orchard tree should h;ive a stem of over 

Fertilizers in the Vineyard and Orchard — 317 

two feet, and we make ours about 30 inches. Farmers say they want the 
trees tall enough to get under in cultivating. The fact is that there is no 
need for getting under them, for if the cultivation reaches the outer branches 
it is sufficient ; for the feeding roots of a tree are all, as a rule, out where the 
drip falls and beyond, and there is the place where cultivation and manur- 
ing are needed. Therefore we head back the young tree to the height we 
want the stem. The low head })rotects the stem of the tree from the liot sun 
and the trees do not get blown over as tall stemmed ones are sure to be. When 
growth begins in the spring we select the three or four best situated buds 
that start near the top as the limbs of the future tree, and rub off all 
others; and allow no others to start during the summer but those we have 
selected for the main limbs. These, at the next pruning in winter, are short- 
ened back to make them branch and gradually form a round and open headed 
tree, and care is afterwards taken that no sappy sprouts are allowed to grow 
in the centre of the tree. These are rubbed out as soon as they start, so as to 
throw the whole strength of the tree into the desirable form. An orchard 
started in this way will seldom need any pruning at all after it gets to a bear- 
ing size, except keeping out the water sprouts in the centre and around the 
base of the tree. 

We have given these methods of practice as a necessary preliminary for 
the feeding of the orchard. We have said that the feeding roots are out 
where the limbs reach. There is, then, little use for putti)ig manure or fer- 
tilizers up against the stem of the tree after it has developed much top. In 
our experiments at Southern Pines, N. C, we proportioned the amount of fer- 
tilizer a])plied to the size of the tree, and did not apply it ail over the ground 
until the roots of the trees had occupied the land between the rows. We 
began by applying the fertilizer to a small circle around the tree, making 
the amount applied proportionate to the space occupied by the roots, and 
enlarged the circle every year as the roots extended. In ordinary orchard 
culture this minute care, is, of course, not needed, and as some crops are com- 
monly grown between the rows the whole soil should be fertilized at once. 

cultivating and cropping the orchard 

There can be no possible objection to the growing of vegetable crops in 
a young orchard to help in paying the expense of cultivation ; but the com- 
mon practice of planting the orchard in corn is objectionable. Tall growing 
plants like Indian corn and the like, which occupy the land during the whole 
summer, are objectionable for more than one reason. The crowding prevents 
the proper development of the head of the tree, and the wide reaching roots 
rob the soil of too much moisture. Low growing crops that occupy the land 

318 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

during the earlier part of the summer, like early Irish potatoes and other 
early garden crops, are far hetter, for all cultivation in the orchard should 
cease by the first of «)uly; and then some soil cover crop like crimson clover 
should be sown, to keep a green cover on the land during the winter and to 
plow nnder for the furnishing of the organic matter that is to supply the 
trees with the needed nitrogen. It is a good plan to set a stout stake on each 
side of the tree a foot or more high in the line of cultivation, to prevent a 
careless plowman from striking the trees with the singletree. What we want 
in the trees is a good but not too rank and sappy a growth. Therefore, as 
a rule, we would avoid the use of stable manure and depend on the promotion 
of the growth of the legumes by liberal applications of phosphoric acid and 
potash, to furnish all the nitrogen needed. In fact this will, in a few years, 
be found a superabundance, and after the orchard is put in grass there will 
be no need for any nitrogenous application, but liberal applications of potash 
and phosphoric acid will be needed to replace the mineral matter carried away 
in the fruit. An orchard in a mown sod on which no animal is allowed to graze 
and from which no grass is taken away, will be longer lived, more healthy 
and fruitful than a cultivated orchard, if the mineral matters are kept sup- 
plied to the soil. The outcry against orchards in grass on the part of some 
writers has been caused by the old method (or lack of method) with orchards 
in grass. We wish to especially impress upon our readers that it is not this 
kind of grass-orcharding we advise, but the keeping of the orchard in grass 
purely for the benefit of the trees. The grass, mowed frequently during the 
growing season, will be constantly adding humus to the soil, and tendmg to 
promote rather than impair the moisture content. The fertility of the soil 
must be kept up by regular applications of phosphoric acid and potash, and 
if this is done the soil loses nothing but what is carried otf m the fruit, and 
the fertilizers applied will more than make good this loss. Another advant- 
age in this method of keeping an orchard in grass is the fact that a soft 
cushion is formed under the trees, and the windfalls are not bruised. In fact, 
if the trees are headed as low as we advise there will be little trouble in gather- 
ing the greater part of the fruit without ladders. An annual dressing of the 
following mixture will keep the grass in fine conrlition, and the dead grass 
itself will furnish organic matter, forming nitrogen sufficient for the trees. 

Acid phosphate, 1,600 pounds; muriate of potash, 400 pounds to make a 
ton. Of this use 400 pounds per acre annually in bearing years at least. If 
at any time there should be evidence of lack of vigor in the trees, replace the 
acid phosphate with raw bone meal, which will furnish about 4 per cent, 
nitrogen. One caution about the distances for planting. Most of our apple 
trees will do better planted not less than 35 feet apart each way. Crowding 

Fertilizers in the Vinbyaru and Orchard — 319 

is a general fault with iiuxperieuced planters. On very fertile soil even a 
wider distance will l)e better. 


Apple leaves collected in May contain water, 72.3(i per cent.; ash, 2.33 
per cent. ; nitrogen, 0.74 per cent. ; phosphoric acid, 0.25 per cent., and potash, 
0.25 per cent. Collected in September they contain water, 60.71 per cent.; 
ash, 3.46 per cent.; nitrogen, 0.89 per cent.; phosphoric acid, 0.19 per cent., 
and potash, 0.39 per cent. The fruit of the apple contains 85.30 per cent. 
of water, 0.39 per cent, of ash, 0.13 per cent, of nitrogen, O.Ol per cent, of 
phosphoric acid and 0.19 per cent, of potash. The wood of the whole tree, 
roots and branches, averages 60.83 per cent water, 1.50 per cent, ash, 0.35 per 
cent, nitrogen, 0.05 per cent, phosphoric acid, and 0.17 per cent, potash. 

Estimating 40 such trees per acre, there would be removed from the soil 
in a crop of ten bushels per tree, in the fruit alone, 32 pounds of nitrogen, 
8 pounds of phosphoric acid, and 45.6 pounds of potash. 

A crop of wheat of twenty bushels per acre removes from the soil in 
grain and straw about 29 pounds of nitrogen, 9 pounds of phosphoric acid and 
5 pounds of potash. It will be seen then that the draft on the soil, especially 
in potash, is far heavier from a crop of apples than a crop of wheat. It has 
taken a large amount of plant food to huild up a hig tree, and to supply its an- 
nual crop of leaves and fruit ; and in most cases the owner of the orchard 
expects to get a crop of hay or pastureage from the orchard, too. And then 
we hear people wonder w^hy they do not get fruit as their fathers did on the 
same farm. They manure their wheat, but starve the orchard which is draw- 
ing on the mineral resources of the soil more than three times as much as the 
wheat is. 

To supply the manurial needs of the fruit alone on a bearing orchard 
as above, would require per acre 200 pounds of nitrate of soda, 60 pounds of 
acid phosphate and 100 pounds of muriate of potash. If, however, the 
orchard is in sod and the grass is kept mown for the benefit of the trees, there 
will not be the need for that amount of nitrogen, as there will be a large 
amount of organic matter returned to the soil, and for the benefit of the trees 
themselves we would increase the amount of phosphoric acid, and make the 
dressing of nitrogen in the form of tankage or cotton seed meal, and use 
300 pounds of acid phosphate, 200 pounds of cotton seed meal and 100 
pounds of muriate of potash per acre. Or it might be as well to put the phos- 
phoric acid in the form of floats or pulverized rock, which would be more 
slowly available it is true, but would, nevertheless probably be better for trees 
than the more readily available acid phosphates. 


The climate and soils of the Atlantic coast of the United States, from 
Boston toCapeHatteras,are peculiarly adapted to the successful culture of the 
pear, and the section of this range best adapted to pears is that known as the 
Delaware and Maryland Peninsula. In this favored region the pear attains 
a size and quality unknown in most other sections. We once showed pears 
from the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay, at an exhibition in Baltimore, 
in competition with the best Boston growers, and our pears of the same varie- 
ties were so far superior to the Boston pears that the Boston men did not 
recognize the varieties. 

But the pear has a wide range over the country where it will succeed very 
well. It likes a deep and fertile clayey loam, and during its early growth 
should have about the same treatment as to feeding that we would give the 
apple. Much attention was formerly given to the cultivation of the pear on 
the Angers quince stock, in order to produce a dwarf and early fruiting habit, 
as the small range of the quince roots would for a while, check the naturally 
rapid growth of the pear, and thus throwing it into the making of fruit spurs 
would still further check the rapid growth of the tree and continue it in a 
fruitful condition. Some varieties on the quince did not fruit excessively 
and finally developed into standard trees, and then unobservant men said that 
the trees had formed roots from the pear stem. The fact is tliat when we put 
a pear on a quince root, and allow no further shoots of quince to grow, all the 
subsequent growth of roots is pear and not quince, for the leaves of a tree 
form all the material for growth, and pear loaves forni food for pear growth 
for limbs and roots alike. Hence all subsequent growth of the tree is pear 
overlaying and extending from the old quince roots, and if the growth of the 
tree is not retarded by excessive fruit bearing, it will finally develop into a 
standard tree, and not a root can be found dii-cctly proceeding froTu the 
pear stem. 

This fact in vegetable physiology has been strangely overlooked by all 


The Peaii— ;}31 

writers on fruit culture. Any nurseryman of experience knows that while 
he may graft a large block of various kinds of apples on the same lot of seed- 
ling crabs, each variety will form from the piece of crab root its own peculiar 
root system. Some of the trees will be easy to dig while others will form a 
root system which makes them harder to lift. What has made this difference ? 
Not the stock, for the stocks are all the same, but the top which was grafted 
on it has made the root system peculiar to the variety. No matter what the 
stock used in working a tree, the subsequent growth will be that of the top, 
whatever that may be; for all elaboration of material for growth is done by 
the leaves, and partakes of the nature of the plant from which the leaves come. 
The quince stock, with roots feeding in a more limited space than the pear 
roots, will for a time check the rapid growth of the pear and throw it into 
fruiting earlier. 

But of late years so many varieties of pears have been introduced which 
bear at a comparatively early age on the pear stock, that less attention is now 
paid to dwarf trees on the quince. The introduction of hybrids with the 
Chinese sand pear has given an impetus to pear culture in the South, where 
the old varieties are seldom a success ; and while the Kieffer and Leconte are 
not of the highest excellence, they flourish and give large crops in sections 
of the country where no other pears can be grown, and form the starting 
point for improved varieties adapted to Southern conditions. Only a few 
days ago we, as Judge, examined a seedling pear from the Kieffer which 
marks a real advance. It is supposed that the Kieffer is a seedling from the 
Bartlett crossed with the Chinese sand pear, and this seedling seems to give 
further evidence that this is true, for while it has the general shape and ap- 
pearance of the Kieffer, it has a brilliant red cheek, and one with his eyes shut 
would pronounce it a Bartlett. When seedlings of such excellence can be 
produced from Kieffer there is a wide field for the workers in the South, in 
improving the pear that will succeed there. 

While this book is not intended to treat of the fungus diseases of fruits 
and other plants, but rather on their growth and feeding, we cannot refrain 
from saying here a few words in regard to the disease which, so far, has baffled 
fruit growers in preventing it. This is the fire blight of the pear, which 
also at times attacks apples and quinces, but hardly to the same extent that it 
does the pear. All sorts of odd notions have prevailed among intelligent 
growers as to the cause of pear blight, and some still have a notion that it is 
caused by frozen sap in winter. But the investigations of scientists have 
fully demonstrated that the blight is caused by one of those microscopic forms 
of plant life known as bacteria, which gets into the shoot in the early spring, 
probably by means of the bees which visit the blossoms. As these grow down- 

322 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

wards, destroying the young growing tissues between the bark and wood, there 
is no way to get any f ungicde material to them. Though the blight begins its 
growth early in the season, its presence is only known to the ordinary observer 
by the sudden wilting and blackening of the foliage on the affected limb. The 
only way to check it is to cut the affected limb off well into the sound wood, 
and to keep the knife used constantly sterilized by dipping it into a solution 
of carbolic acid, to prevent transferring live bacteria to sound wood. Then 
burn all the cut-off wood at once, and keep on planting more pear trees. 
Some varieties are less liable to the blight than others, but all are to some 
extent, sul)ject to it, and if anyone tells you that a certain variety is blight 
proof you can ho sure he does not know what he is talking about. 

Since writing the foregoing I have visited one of the famous Pippin or- 
chards in the mountains of Albenuirle County, Virginia. The owner wished 
me to give him some advice in regard to the tAvig blight, which was very trou- 
blesome. I spent some hours in the study of a large number of trees, and 
what struck me most was the fact that there was no signs of blight on the 
trees which were destitute of fruit, but on those carrying a crop there was 
uniformly blighted twigs. This fact seems to confirm the experiments made 
at one of our Stations, showing that the point of infection with the blight 
bacteria is the blossoms, and when these fill without setting fruit there was 
no infection. The important point in preventing fire blight in pears and 
apples is to watch its first start in spring and cut it out before the whole limb 
is affected, for there is no infection later in the season. 

One thing that we have learned by experience, and that is that pear trees 
growing in sod are far less affected by blight than those cultivated and heavily 
manured. The rank growth induced by heavy manuring is peculiarly the 
prey of the blight. We once had two plantations of pears in a similar soil, 
and only separated by an evergreen hedge. One lot were in a piece of land 
which was used as a vegetable garden and annually manured and well culti- 
vated. These blighted continually, with the sole exception of a tree of the 
Buerre D'AnJou, which had such a luxuriant growth and spreading habit that 
nothing would grow near it, and the land there was only cultivated to the 
extent of the wide spreading limbs. Over the other side of the hedge was an- 
other plantation of pears which were set on a lawn and had never been culti- 
vated from the start. The lawn was constantly mown and kept in perfect 
order, and all the cut grass allowed to remain where it fell. It was also an- 
nually top dressed with bone and potash. We never saw a blighted limb 
on these trees in the six years we had them in charge, and while they did not 
make as heavy growth as the trees in the cultivated land, they bore annual 
crops of fine fruit. 

The Pear— 323 

Hence, with the pear as with the apple, we would cultivate the trees in 
grass as soon as they have attained to a bearing size. No one ever has trees 
to blight, so far as we have observed, till they get to blooming, and this is ad- 
ditional evidence that the bacteria gain entrance through the blossoms. 

The pruning of the pear tree from the start must be done in accordance 
with the particular habit of the tree, for pear trees vary greatly in their habit 
of growth. Seckel needs hardly any pruning to keep it in perfectly round 
and symmetrical growth, except to prevent too dense a head. Sheldon tends 
to grow up into a Lombardy poplar form and needs shortening back to buds 
on the outside of the shoots, to induce a more spreading habit. Some of the 
books are fond of showing pears trained in a pyramidal form, but we have al- 
ways found that for our climate the round and open headed form is the best 
for all our fruit trees. Branched low to the ground and trained into this 
form they are better for our purposes than pyramids which need the constant 
care of an expert. With trees like Kieffer and Leconte, which are inclined to 
make long shoots, it is important to practice summer pinching to induce the 
formation of a compact head. We have seen many Kieffer trees which have 
been allowed to take their natural habit, and which soon load the long shoots 
with fruit and break with the weight. If these long shoots had been checked 
by pinching the terminal buds when a foot or two long, they would have 
branched and become more compact. Summer pinching is often of greater 
value than winter pruning with such rapid growers as the Kieffer and Vicar. 
With feeble and crooked growers like the Bartlett, hard and close pruning 
should be the rule while young, and no summer pinching should be done, for 
the Bartlett needs encouragement to grow rather than checking. Winter 
cutting increases growth and summer pinching checks it. Bear this in mind 
in all your pruning. 


What we have said in regard to the feeding of the apple orchard will ap- 
ply with equal force to the manuring of the pear. Avoid too much nitrog- 
enous manure, and too rank a growth if you want to avoid the blight; but 
after the trees have come to bearing age put them in grass and keep the grass 
as you would a fairly good lawn. An annual topdressing of raw bone meal 
and muriate of potash, in proportion of five of the first to one of the latter, 
will keep pears in sod in a sufficiently thrifty condition, and they will be far 
less liable to blight than if cultivated. Even in the young and formative 
stage of the trees of apples and pears, the cultivation should not be kept xip 
later than July, so as to give the trees time to ripen the wood growth of the 

324 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

season, and to be in a better condition to pass through the -winter. Remember 
too, what we have said in regard to cultivation, that if the land is cultivated 
to the outer edge of the limbs it is sufficient, since the feeding roots are out 
beyond the limbs and not at the base of the stem. 

The New Jersey Station suggests the following in regard to feeding the 
pear: "Two good mixtures of fertilizers to apply are, first, equal parts of 
ground bone, muriate of potash and acid phosphate ; second, one and on-half 
parts of ground bone and one part of muriate of potash ; 500 pounds per acre 
is usually applied. Where nitrogen is needed, nitrate of soda is one of the 
best forms, but it may be omitted when crimson clover is grown.'* 



The so-called "stone" fruits all require nearly the same treatment- The 
peach, being a short lived tree, needs constant and regular cultivation annu- 
ally during the whole term of its existence. But, as in the case with young 
apple trees this cultivation should not be continued too late in the season, 
and some cover crop should be sown to protect the soil during the winter 
and to be turned under in the spring for the benefit of the trees. In the 
peach growing region of Delaware and Eastern Maryland it has become a 
common practice to sow the orchard in crimson clover in July, at the close 
of cultivation, and to plow it all under in the spring. 


Peach trees shoukl always be but one year old from the bud when set. 
In the South the planting can be best done in the fall, at any time after the 
leaves fall up to Christmas, but in cold latitudes the planting should be 
deferred till spring. We always prune the roots of a peach tree rather closely, 
leaving only the stout roots five or six inches long, as the small fibres will 
all be dry and worthless in any event and the young roots put out more rap- 
idly from a clean cut surface. We are not yet ready to adopt the plan recom- 
mended by Mr. Stringfellow, of Texas, to cut off the roots to a mere stub 
and set the trees in holes made with a crowbar, in -iod land, though trees thus 
treated will live and grow. We prefer to dig a moderate sized hole, no deeper 
than the plowing has been, and then to ram the soil tightly to the pruned 
roots. After planting, we trim off all side shoots closely, and then head back 
the main stem to about twenty inches from the ground. In the Spring, when 
growth begins, we select the best situated buds, three or four, near the top, 
t.o form the head, and rub off all others. During the summer we watch the 
young shoots and if one limb is inclined to grow too fast for its fellows, and 
thus form a one-sided head, we pinch its tip and cheek it. 


326 — Crop O rowing and Crop Feeding 

The second spring the pruning needed will be to shorten back the young 
growth of the previous year nearly one-half, and to thin out the shoots that 
may interfere with each other in the centre of the tree. The peach bears its 
fruit on the wood of the previous year, and the tendency of growth is toward 
the extremity of the branches, and finally to leave the centre of the tree des- 
titute of youiig wood. The annual pruning, then, should be directed towards 
the maintenance of fruit wood well distributed throughout the head of the 
tree, so that the load of fruit will be carried without overloading the extremi- 
ties and causing the limbs to break. 


Heavy applications of nitrogenous fertilizers are to be avoided in peach 
culture, as encouraging too rank and sappy a growth and conducing rather 
to wood than fruitfulness. If the orchard is sown annually in crimson clover 
or some other legume growing during the winter, it will get all the nitrogen 
needed without artificial application of phosplioric acid and potash, and es- 
pecially potash. Frequently an unhealthy and yellowish condition of the tree 
has been cured l)y the application of potash, and this fact has caused some 
to believe that the disease known as "yellows" can be cured by potassic appli- 
cations, which is hardly possible. The yellows is caused by a fungus, some 
think, on the roots of the tree; a species of the mushroom family. If this is 
true, it would seem that the best way to fight the yellows is with fungicides 
applied to the soil. The application of phosphoric acid and potassic fertil- 
izers in lil)eral amount will greatly aid the growth of the clover, and the in- 
creased growth will enable the plant to do more nitrogen catching, so that in 
ii few years it may be found l)est to cut the clover for hay rather than to con- 
tinue the accumulation of humus material in the soil. Of this, however, 
everv grower must judge for himself. After plowing under the clover, the 
dean and shallow cultivation of the soil is important, for no weed growth 
should be allowed on the land to withdraw moisture from the trees during 
their early summer growth. Some of the best work with the peach has l)een 
done by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. 

The report of the Connecticut Station for 185)5 has the following state- 
ment in regard to the composition of the peach : 

"When peach trees are set 18 feet apart each way, as is the common prac- 
tice in this State, there are 130 trees to an acre. Experienced growers reckon 
three liaskets to a tree, an average yield for orchards five years planted. Four 
baskets per tree is a maximum crop. Froin the above data are calculated 
the quantities of nitrogen and mineral matter removed from an acre of 130 
trees 1)y the average crop of three baskets of peaches per tree, viz. : 

Peaches, Plums and Cherries — 32? 
niirogen and ash ingredients in a peach crop of 390 baskets per acre. 

"Nitrogen, ID. 7 pounds; potash, 21.9 pounds; soda, 1.2 pounds; lime, 
1.0 pounds; nuignesia, 1.0 pounds; oxide of iron, 0.4 pound; phosphoric acid 
4.2 pounds; sulph. acid, 1.0 pounds; chlorine, 0.4 pound. 

"Contrary to the commonly received idea, the pulp of the fruit contains 
the greater part of both the nitrogen and mineral matters. Only about one- 
fourth of the nitrogen and one-tenth of the ash elements are contained in the 
stones. While these quantities of nitrogen and mineral matters are smaller 
than those removed by many other garden or field crops, it does not follow that 
peach trees need less care for their proper manuring. The quantities of plant 
food required for the yearly growth of wood and leaves must be considerable. 
Young twigs contain a larger proportion of nitrogen, phosphoric acid and 
potash than old wood. But we have no exact data at hand from which to 
compute the yearly demand of the growing peach tree on the plant food in 
the soil. Field experiments demonstrate that liberal fertilization is neces- 
sary to secure the most profitable returns from peach orchards." 

The figures given simply show what is carried off from the acre of land 
by the crop of peaches, and indicate that an annual return of 20 pounds of 
nitrogen, 22 of potash and 5 of phosphoric acid will restore to the land what 
the average peach crop requires, and that 27 pounds of nitrogen, 30 of potash 
and 7 of phosphoric acid will make good the deficit caused by a maximum 
crop, provided there are no other sources of loss besides the export 
of fruit. But it is one thing to return to the soil what the crop has 
removed and, to some extent, another thing to maintain the fertility of the 
soil so far as relates to the suitable supply of plant food. 

The active feeders of the tree in the soil are the young rootlets and root 
hairs that are put forth the current- year. The roots of five or two years ago 
are probably themselves totally incapable of feeding the plant. Even last 
year's roots are of little use except as they are necessary bases of the new 
rootlets that develop this year. The young roots of each successive year of 
growth thus occupy different positions in the soil, and since most of the plant 
food in the soil is incapable of movement, much of it, at any time, is out of 
the reach of the rootlets, and to be fertile the acre of soil must contain many 
pounds of plant food in order to insure to the crop the few pounds which 
it requires. 

"If the soil is very rich to begin with, the trees may produce well for years 
without fertilizers, but the New England hills that furnish the best orchard 
sites, are, as a rule, not fertile, and must be well enriched to make them profit- 
able. It is now no doubt well known to orchardists that soils have the power 

328 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

of changing the soluljility and availability of the plant food which 
may be put upon them in fertilizers. It is well proved that 
phosphoric acid applied in water-soluble form, becomes, in many 
soils within a few days or weeks, quite insoluble in water, and 
for a considerable time gradually diminishes in availability. Cer- 
tain soils contain enough phosphoric acid to serve many large crops if it 
were freely accessible to their roots, but that this phosphoric acid is not imme- 
diately available is demonstrated by the fact that moderate dressings of plain 
superphosphate strikingly increase the yield. What has just been stated 
of phosphoric acid is equally true of potash. As to nitrogen, we know much 
but not nearly enough of its incomings and outgoings. We know that the 
soils of forests, meadows and moist pastures gain in nitrogen, while dry, 
naked or tilled ground loses nitrogen from year to year. We know that 
clovers and legumes generally rapidly enrich or may enrich the soil they grow 
upon, as respects nitrogen, while the culture of cereals, root and fibre crops, 
and garden truck, diminishes and exhausts the soil nitrogen. As a rule 
in case of soils that have a fair proportion of fine clayey matters, all the phos- 
phoric acid and potash that may be needed to aid any crop, if once applied 
cannot escape from the soil and will be retained near the surface, will not 
in any event descend much below or spread from where it has been placed. 
With nitrogen it is very different and loss of this element may occur in three 
ways: First, by leaching out in the drainage water as nitrates; second, by 
escaping into the air as nitrogen gas, and, third, by conversion into compara- 
tively inert forms, such as exist in leaf mold, swamp muck and peat, or in the 
cell tissues of fungi and shells of insects. For this reason, soluble and active 
and therefore costly, fertilizers are best applied in small doses, at or near the 
surface of the ground and at short intervals; while cheap, insoluble and 
slowly-acting manures may be used in large applications and deeply mixed in 
order to establish a more permanent state of fertility. The amount of any 
needed fertilizer element to be supplied annually, must be learned by experi- 
ence and experiment, since soils vary greatly in their composition and quali- 
ties ; and the supply must commonly be several or many times larger than the 
amount annually taken off in the crop. One fertilizer element that is scarcely 
noticeable in the export of the peach crop, is nevertheless important to its 
production. The chief ingredient of the ash of the wood, bark and leaves 
of all trees is generally lime. The wood of healthy peach twigs of one year's 
growth contained 1.87 per cent, of ash, of which 54.2. per cent, was lime, 9.5 
per cent, magnesia, 16.3 per cent potash, 4.3 per cent, phosphoric acid and 6.9 
per cent, sulphuric acid. The mature leaves of oak and chestnut trees con- 
tain about 30 per cent, of water, 3 to 4 per cent, of ash, and of the latter 30 

Peaches^ Plums and Cherries — 329 

to 40 por cent, is lime. Where the water of wells or springs coming from the 
soil, is soft or but slightly hard, the orchard needs lime to be supplied. This 
substance dissolves rather freely in the drainage water and is, therefore, sub- 
ject to constant waste. Wood ashes and lime should be broadcasted at the 
rate of 500 pounds per acre annually, and this dressing will be of the greatest 
benefit to the crimson clover now so commonly used in the orchards." Our 
own opinion is that no peach or other orchard would need so frequent an ap- 
plication of lime, and that the above amount in connection with grass in the 
apple orchards and the annual clover in the peach orchard during the latter 
part of the season, would be ample for all needs if applied once in three years. 
These remarks in regard to the fertilization of the peach are equally applica- 
ble to the fertilzation of orchard trees of a7iy kind, and the lime is even more 
important in the apple and pear orchard than in the peach orchard. 


While the statement that plums require a heavier soil than peaches is 
true, especially of the European (or Domestica) sorts, the Japanese and 
American varieties will thrive on a great variety of soils, and we have seen 
them bearing heavy crops on a deep sand. Many nurserymen bud their plums 
entirely on peach seedlings, but this has one difficulty. While the peach 
stock makes a vigorous tree it is just as liable to the peach tree borer at the 
crown of the root as the peach; hence many have begun to use the Marianna 
plum as a stock and find that it is better than the peach, as it thrives on a 
greater variety of soils and resists the borer better, while it has root develop- 
ment enough to promote a vigorous growth. The budding is done in August, 
at the same time the general budding of the peach is done, and the buds re- 
main dormant till the following spring. Some nurserymen insert buds of the 
plum and peach in June and get a small growth the same season, but the 
practice is not to be recommended as a general rule, though careful growers 
can make just as good trees from the little June-budded stocks as any, and for 
our own planting we rather prefer them ; but the average planter had better 
take the yearling trees. In planting, we prune the roots to four to eight 
inches long. The finer rootlets will have all dried and become useless and 
new roots are produced on the ends of the clean cut roots sooner than from 
the dried up fibres. The peach and all other fruit trees we treat in the same 
way. Of late years tliere has been a great deal of controversy over a method of 
planting advocated by a grower in Texas. He prunes off all the roots of the 
tree and leaves only a stub 3 or 4 inches long. He then makes a hole with 
a crowbar in the sod, sticks the tree in and rams the earth to it. He claims 

33U — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

that trees treated in this way will make better trees and better roots than if 
])lanted in a big hole with all the roots. Climate has a good deal to do with 
these things, and experiments in a more northern latitude have not been as 
favorable as those made in the South, where trees planted in this way certain- 
ly do grow and thrive remarkably. The })lanting should l)e done in the South 
as soon as the leaves are oif in the fall and up to Christmas, and in the North 
prol)ably Aj)ril would be the better time. For most of the Japan plums a dis- 
tant' of 16x20 feet will be about the proper space for the planting. As with 
the peach, the plums should, during the early stages of their growth at least, 
receive careful culture during the early part of the summer, and after July 
should have a crop of crimson clover sown among them. After the trees 
have gotten well to fruiting, they can safely l)e put into grass 
and used as a chicken yard. The pruning is about the same 
we give the ])each, and the manuring we have already men- 
tioned. If the clover or other nitrogen collecting legume is grown 
among the trees, with a good application of phosphoric acid and 
potash, there will be no need for any nitrogenous manures, l)ut the application 
of the phosphoric and potassic fertilizers should be faithfully kept up annual- 
ly if the production of maximum ci'ops is desired. All the Japan plums are 
inclined to overbear, and there is no fruit grown that can be so improved by 
systematic thinning of the young fruit. Thinning not only improves the size 
and quality of the fruit and takes off the strain from the vitality of the tree, 
but it also lessens the tendency to rot where the fruit grows touching each 
other. But pick the fruit by hand and do not merely shake the trees or thresh 
off the fruit with a pole and thereby bruise many that are left. With the 
domestica (or European) sorts it is essential that daily jarring of the trees 
he practiced so as to catch the curculio which lays eggs in the fruit and makes 
them wormy. If the chickens, as I have said, are allowed access to the trees 
and the jarring is done daily, they will gather uj) the bitten fruit and insects, 
and keep the trees comparatively free. A large machine like an inverted 
umbrella is used in large orchards for the collecting of the insects. It is 
made on a stout frame with cotton cloth and a slit on one side so that it can 
be slipped around the body of th(> tree. If the machine has an opening at 
the bottom under which a pan of kerosene is attached, the insects and bitten 
fruit roll into this and are at once destroyed. 

Plums prefer rather a heavier soil than the peach, and thrive well in sod. 
We have here an old ])luin tree, growing in a hollow in the woods, where it 
has never received any cultivation whatever. It stands in the shade of large 
oaks and other trees of the original forest, and yet, year after year it bears 
crops of the tinesi plums. How old it is we do not know for it was there many 

Peaches, Plums and Chekkiks — 331 

years before we canio into possession. It would hardly be classed as a remark- 
ably thrifty tree, and yet it is healthy, free from black knot, and does not 
seem <o be troubled by the eurculio. Our chickens have the free range oi' the 
woods where it grows, and this fact may, to some extent, account for its free- 
dom from insects. In fact, from our exjjerience in the past, we believe that 
a chicken yard is about the best place for plum trees. All the old Euro})ean 
varieties are peculiarly liable to the attacks of the eurculio, and a regular 
jarring of the trees in a poultry yard will keep them down as etfectually as any 
plan we have ever tried. Then, too, the droppings of the poultry will give 
much plant food to the trees. Plums of the more recently introduced Japan- 
ese varieties are inclined to grow long, rank shoots and to get overloaded. 
The pruning should be similar to that of the peach to preserve the trees in 
a round headed shape, and to keep the fruit spurs well distributed over the 
tree. One fact in regard to plums, and especially the native and Japanese 
sorts is the repugnance they have in many varieties to self impregnation. 
Hence it is important that the varieties should be well mixed together in the 
orchard. A farmer who had an orchard of the Wild (roose plum asked me 
one day why it was that only one corner of the orchard bore heavy crops. I 
asked him if there were any other plum trees near that corner. He said that 
there was a hedge row of the native Chicasa plums there. The reason was 
then quite apparent, for the wild plums were helping to set the fruit. While 
plums do well in a sod after they have attained a bearing size, we would, as 
in the case of a])ples and pears, grow the sod solely for the benefit of the trees 
and would not cut hay from it, but simply keep it mown and let the grass 
decay where it falls. In addition to this an annual application of 300 to 
400 ])()unds per acre of a mixture of acid phosphate and muriate of potash, 
in proportion of five parts of the phosphate to one of the potash, will keep up 
the fertility of the soil and the health and productiveness of the trees. 


Cherries, like plums, will thrive well in uncultivated soil, as is well at- 
tested by the immense trees along the fence rows in the ]\liddle Atlantic 
States. But the Morel lo class of pie cherries thrives best under the same treat- 
ment as the peach, and should be well cultivated if fine crops are expected. 
The sour cherries are the only ones that can be grown with success in the 
South Atlantic coast region, though the finer sorts thrive in all the mountain 
country of the Southern Alh^ghanies. The same treatment as to manuring 
that has l)een advised for the peach will suit the cherry as well. In the South, 
the trees of the larger cherries should always be upon the Mahaleb stock, and 

332 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

headed very low to shield the trunks from the sun. In fact, this low heading 
of fruit trees, while the best anywhere, is absolutely essential in the South, 
if we are to prevent sun scalding on the southwest sides of the trees. 

Cherry trees in more northern sections are budded for the sweet varie- 
ties on the Mazzard stock, as this makes a larger tree than the Mahaleb ; there 
only the sour cherries are worked on the Mahaleb stock. The trees are usu- 
ally set at two years old, but we prefer to set one year trees, as we can then 
better start the formation of the low head the cherry should always have. 
With the sour cherries it is essential that the orchard should have good culti- 
vation throughout its entire life, and the same is true for the best success in 
orchard culture of any of the varieties, though there are thousands of the 
most magnificent cherry trees along the fence rows on the Delaware and 
Maryland Peninsula which have never received any cultivation at all further 
than that given the fields on which they border ; and yet the trees are vigorous 
iind healthy and produce enormous crops. The sweet cherry tree is a gross 
feeder and will find food by means of its wide-spreading roots in a soil where 
the dwarfer, sour cherries would not thrive, and if the soil for these is made 
too rich they may run merely into an annual wood growth and bear little fruit. 
The sowing of a crimson clover crop in the cherry orchard is just as import- 
ant and useful as in the peach orchard, and all the nitrogenous matter the 
trees need can be supplied in this way. But, as has been well said in the bul- 
letin of the Delaware Station, the plowing under of this clover in the spring 
should be done as soon as the land is in order to plow, for early plowing and 
subsequent shallow cultivation, is an important matter for the retention 
in the soil of the moisture the cherry needs for its best development. The 
Delaware Station advises the application of 300 to 500 pounds of acid phos- 
]>hate and 150 to 250 pounds of muriate of potash per acre to the cherry 
orchard. One of the most extensive cherry growers in Western New York 
applies three pounds of muriate of potash and two pounds of acid phosphate 
per tree, either in the spring or when seeding to crimson clover. The regu- 
lar application of phosphoric acid is an important thing for the proper ma- 
turity of the wood in the fall. As with all the stone fruits that bloom early, 
the cherry will be safer in a northern exposure in most parts of the country, 
so that the blossoming period may be retarded. The most profitable sour 
cherries for market are the Montmorenci and the Early Eichmond. The 
same jarring that is practiced with the plum and peach is useful in catching 
the curculio on the cherry, and should not be neglected. The best remedy 
against sun scald and bursting of the bark is to head the trees close to the 
ground and get the protection of the top as soon as possible. 


The wide range of soils and climates in the United States in which grape 
culture succeeds is an evidence of the great adaptability of the vine for varied 
conditions. The grape thrives well on soils of very different character, and is 
at home anywhere in a soil abounding in the plant foods it needs; provided 
it has a well drained location, for it will not thrive with wet feet; a compact 
clay is about the poorest soil for the grape. The Delaware, which is inclined 
to be a feeble grower in such a soil, grows with the utmost luxuriance on a 
shaly hillside and finds its most congenial home in the sandy uplands of the 
South. On these sandy lands we found that there is no plant grown which is 
so readily affected by the commercial fertilizers as the grape. And we have 
also found that a complete fertilizer, in which there is a fair percentage of 
nitrogen and a large percentage of phosphoric acid and potash, is the best for 
th(> grape. With such a fertilizer we grew the Niagara grape to such a size 
that we were compelled to pack them in the carrier baskets used for peaches, 
as the smaller grape baskets were entirely too small for the clusters. Our 
vines were planted in rows ten feet apart and eight feet from each other in 
the row. We used a modification of the Munson trellis. Posts were set in 
the rows, and cross pieces two feet long nailed across their tops four feet from 
the ground. Wires were stretched along the line of posts and two others 
along the ends of the cross pieces. The arms were taken along the central 
wire and the fruit shoots hung over the outer wires so as to completely shelter 
the grapes beneath. This style of trellis is convenient for the cultivation, 
pruning and harvesting of the grapes, and there is far less rot than on an 
unsheltered, vertical trellis. For a fertilizer we would advise the following, 
to make a ton. Acid phosphate, 1,000 pounds ; cotton seed meal, 600 pounds ; 
iind muriate of potash, 400 pounds. Of this we would use 400 to 500 pounds 
per acre, annually on a sandy soil. 

A ton of fresh grapes will remove from the soil 3.3 pounds of nitrogen, 
0.2 of a pound of phosphoric acid and 5.3 pounds of potash. In the wood- 
growth the amount of phosphoric acid is greatly larger than in the fruit, and 
the amount of potash nearly three times as great. The main requirements, 


334: — Crop Growi.xg and Crop Feeding 

then, evidently are phosphoric acid and potash. As in the case of the orchard 
of peaches, the vineyard will be greatly better off if the cultivation ceases at 
niidsunmier, and the spaces between the rows are sown with a leguminous 
crop that will remain during the winter. With such a growth there will soon 
!)e no need for any applications of nitrogen in the fertilizer, which can then be 
reduced to the two constituents, acid phosphate and potash. 

The Southern species of the Vulpina {Rotundifolia) genus, the "Scup- 
pernong," are commonly grown from Southeastern Virginia southward along 
the coast on horizontal arbors, and there is a belief that they should never 
be pruned ; and there are, in the South, immense vines that cover acres with 
the growth from a single trunk, and bear profusely. But proper pruning is 
just as good for the Scuppernong and other grapes of this class as for others, 
with the difference that these grapes produce fruit from two-year-old wood, 
while the Labrusca varieties grown in the North bear on one-year wood. A 
proper amount of strong canes must be preserved in the Scuppernong class 
and the old gnarled wood cut out. This must be done in the fall, to avoid 
the heavy l)leeding these vines are apt to make when cut in the spring. These 
grapes prefer a sandy soil and a warm climate, and will not ripen north of 
Southern Virginia. In a soil suited to them they are not at all exacting in 
their requirements as to food, and all over the South Atlantic slope can be seen 
immense vines which have never been manured or pruned. But they will, 
nevertheless, well repay the application advised for other grapes. Grown on 
the wide extended arbors it is not practicable to grow the leguminous cover 
crops, and some nitrogen should always be a part of the fertilizer, and no mix- 
ture is better than the above. 


Most of the varieties of our native grapes are easily increased from cut- 
tings of the one-year-old wood, made in the fall and buried out of reach of 
frost (in the colder latitudes) till spring, and then set in nursery rows. In the 
South they can be set at once where they are to grow, and slightly protected 
by a thin cover of pine leaves or straw to prevent the soil from freezing. The 
cuttings should be made with about three eyes unless the wood is of a very 
short jointed variety, when four or more eyes may be used. They should be 
set with the top bud just above the ground, and the cuttings should be cut 
right under the bud at the lower end and an inch above the bud at the top. 
They will be fit to set in the vineyard at the end of one summer's growth. 
Sonu^ varieties, like the Delaware and Norton's Virginia, which are slow to 
root in 1b(> ordinarv wav, will root well if tied in bunches and buried in the 

The Grape— 33;") 

fall upside down, and then in the spring set in the proper position. Why 
this is so I do not attempt to explain, i)iit the fact is that refractory cuttings 
will root when so treated that would not root if set at once in the jjroper posi- 
tion. It is frequently desiral)le to change the variety of grape in a vineyard 
and then the grafting method should be used. Having strong, old stocks we 
cut them down to the crown of the roots, and late in the fall, here, insert cleft 
grafts and then mound the earth over the whole deep enough to exclude tli(> 
usual amount of frost. In the North the grafting should be deferred till 
JVIareh, but should be done before there is any swelling of the buds, and the 
earlier it is done the better. ^!r. A. S. Fuller grafted grapes in the fall in 
the North, by covering the graft with an inverted flower pot and burying 
the whole in the soil, just leaving the bottom of the pot uncovered, and then 
covered the whole with straw to protect from freezing, and put on top the 
straw eight inches of soil. If the grafting is done in the spring the scions 
should be cut in the fall and buried as the cuttings are, so as to keep them 
dormant, for the grafting can be done wath success after the vines start if the 
scions are dormant. Strong growing sorts, like the Champion and the Con- 
cord, are fine stocks for grafting, and we have seen canes of the Delaware 
from a graft on the Champion which, by fall, were 20 feet long, and in good 
condition to begin fruiting the following season. The scion is cut in the ordi- 
nary wedge shape, with a bud on the outside just above the point to which it is 
inserted in the stock. There are other methods used in the grafting of the 
grape, but the ordinary cleft-graft on the crown of the root, is more uniformly 
successful and is as good as any. We do not use any wax in grafting grapes, 
but always bury the graft well in the ground at the point of union. A modi- 
fication in the grafting of grapes was invented by Mr. Allen W^arren, of this 
State, who is a large grower of the Scuppernong. While the Scuppernong is 
easily grown from layers it is rather refractory from long cuttings. Mr. 
Warren goes into the woods and gets roots of the Wild BuUace grapes belong- 
ing to the same family as the Scuppernong. These he cuts into three-inch 
pieces and makes a split across the root about midway. He then makes his 
scion wedge-shape, as for ordinary cleft grafting, sticks it through this slit 
and then sets the graft as an ordinary cutting. In the fall following it will 
be seen that rootlets have started from the root and also from the projecting 
end of the graft, a much stronger vine is the result and there is a perfect 
union with the scion where it crosses the root. The same practice can be fol- 
lowed with the Labrusca varieties by taking roots of the same species. Grapes 
are seldom as fine in a rich garden as in the vineyard. This is because of the 
excess of nitrogen in the soil, and they should have only phosphoric acid and 
potash to balance this. It is the result simply of an unbalanced food ration. 




This book would not be the valuable Vade Mecum we would like to make 
it if we gave no attention to the needs of that large class of cultivators who 
work under artificial conditions, and whose operations are upon a more in- 
tensive scale than those of any other class of growers. Winter forcing of 
vegetable crops under glass is a business of rather recent development in this 
country. Not that it has not long been done in the hothouses of the wealthy, 
where the products cost their weight in silver, but it is only of recent years 
that the increase of wealth and population in our large cities has made it 
possible and profitable to grow vegetables and fruits under artificial con- 
ditions in winter. The great development of the trucking industry in the 
South and nearby tropical sections, with modern facilities for transportation, 
incited the gardeners of the North to greater efforts to meet this competi- 
tion. Knowing that with skill and capital garden products of all sorts could 
be produced in finer quality under glass than in the open ground, it only i > 
mained to secure a clientage which would pay a price for these products that 
would warrant the extra expense of producing them. And, as in all business 
where men set themselves earnestly to work and there is a fair amount of com- 
petition, methods are gradually developed for cheapening the production to 
meet the increase in competition. In the earlier days of winter forcing under 
glass the small amount of products grown commanded very fancy prices, and 
these fancy prices stimulated others to engage in the business, with the in- 
evitable result that increased production of articles bought by a limited class 
of people, led to a decrease in price on the market. But the American gar- 
dener is ever on the alert to meet the difficulties of his profession, and the 
cheapening of the product simply set him to work at the task of cheapening 
the production by increasing the area of his work and doing things on a larger 
scale, using facilities with which smaller cultivators find it difficult to com- 
pete. Naturally the cultivation of vegetables, fruits and flowers in the cold 
months first developed in the colder sections of the country, near the large 


Gardening Under Glass — 337 

Korthorn cities where wealth has accumulated and the custoiuers for these 
thinj^s live. The conij)etition around the market gardener in the crops grown 
in the oi)en ground, and the competition of those in a more sunny climate 
made it necessary for the wide awake gardener to adopt some means for get- 
ting the advantage of his immediate neighbors and competing on somewhat 
equal terms with those south of him, who were handicapped by long trans- 
portation charges. So today the gardener who simply meets the local com- 
petition, is less successful than the man who by extra skill and the use of 
glass meets the competition of those further away in a more sunny climate, 
and ])uts on his local nuirket, products of superior excellence and in better 
condition than those from a distance grown under natural conditions and with 
less application of skill. For instance, the writer, even in a Southern home- 
market, every winter sells tomatoes from the forcing house in direct competi- 
tion with the open ground product from Florida, and gets five times the price 
that the Florida product brings, simply because of the greater excellence 
and superior condition of his product. For a long time this business of grow- 
ing products under glass was confined to the immediate vicinity of the great 
markets of the North. Only a few years ago we noted the fact that in the 
nuirket reports one morning the first cucumbers from the open ground in the 
lower Gulf States were sold on the Northern market, and the same morning 
cucumbers from a hothouse in Vermont were sold there, and the product of 
the hothouse in that semi-arctic climate brought several times the price of 
the Southern article. Since these products in such a climate must have been 
produced at a great cost, and being at a considerable distance from the New 
York market where they were sold, the thought occurred to me that there was 
the opportunity of the grower in the Upper South no further from the market, 
and with a milder and more sunny climate, which would allow of cheaper 
houses, less coal and with the abounding sunshine, even in the coldest weather, 
to compete again on better terms with his Northern competitor. 

Sonie time since I received a letter from a grower in the Berkshire Hills 
of Massachusetts, saying that he was there engaged in the l)usiness of forcing 
cucumbers in winter. He said that there he was obliged to use doulde-glazed 
sashes on his house, a very expensive heating apparatus and a great deal of 
coal, and still the business Avas a remunerative one. He had formed the idea 
that in the Upper South he could find a climate better adapted to winter forc- 
ing by reason of a milder winter and more sunshine, which would necessitate 
less expense iii construction and maintenance, while not much further to ship 
the products than from ^Massachusetts to New York. I told him that there was 
no doubt about the feasibility of the plan. The indications, therefore, are 
that the example set by the energetic growers of New England and the North 

338 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

will gradually extend this winter forcing southward. One of the leading 
winter crops under glass in the North has for many years been that of lettuce, 
and the demand for winter lettuce is such that the business has extended 
greatly, and the Arlington growers in the vicinity of Boston, have become 
famous for their product. A number of years ago the writer conceived the 
idea that lettuce could be grown with success southward by the aid of cold 
frames, at far less expense than in the heated structures used in New Eng- 
land. At that time we were located in Northern Maryland, and the markets 
of Baltimore and Washington were then largely supplied with Boston lettuce. 
With perfect faith in the feasibility of growing good winter lettuce in frames 
I began the cultiire with 600 sashes 3x6 feet, and with the aid of straw mats 
found no difficulty in producing there first-class lettuce, and in selling it 
readily in the markets of Baltimore and Philadelphia 

Coming South in later years I urged upon our growers the great profit 
that could be derived from frame culture in a mild climate, and to show my 
faith I put down 1,000 sashes at Old Point Comfort, Va., for the growing 
of lettuce and cauliflower for the New York market and the supply of the 
great Hygeia Hotel, and the culture was even more successful than in Mary- 
land. Still later, in North Carolina, I urged the culture of winter crops in 
simple frames on the attention of our growers. But as soon as a Southern 
market gardener begins to contemplate anything like cold weather work he 
thinks of some cheap substitute for glass, and has a notion that cotton cloth 
will answer all purposes in his climate. Our growers took hold of the lettuce 
idea, but could not get the nerve to invest in glass, hence the business in the 
South has largely been developed under cloth in lieu of glass, and though the 
cloth is a poor substitute for glass the great adaptability of the climate to the 
purpose has enabled them to make large profits from the crop grown under 
these crude conditions, and it will not be long before the more far sighted 
will perceive the necessity and the profit of using glass. Then, with the be- 
ginning of frame culture the transition will be easy to regular greenhouse 
structures and artificial heat for regular winter forcing. 

The production of vegetables, fruits and flowers under glass in winter 
even in the sections of the country where it has most developed, and where 
acres are covered with houses for the business, is still in its evolutionary stage, 
and with the rapid increase in population and wealth in the great cities, and 
the perfection of the means for the rapid transport of the products, the busi- 
ness will extend to sections where the growers have heretofore simply been 
relying upon the advantage their climate gives them, and have been inclined 
to be extensive rather than intensive cultivators. Our people, especially in 
the South, have always been anxious to be large farmers, large truckers and 

Gardening Under Glass — 339 

small- fruit growers, and to get a reputation for the extent of their operations 
rather than the perfection of their product. With the inception of winter 
gardening, even with the crude aid of plant-cloth, there is already a disposi- 
tion to concentrate capital and labor on smaller areas, as it becomes evident 
that the man who pays more attention to quality than quantity will win in the 
competition with his neighbors. The effort that the Northern growers have 
made by the erection of expensive greenhouse plants, to compete with this in 
more favored climates, is leading to the same effort on the part of the growers 
in the upper South, who are beginning to realize the advantage their rapid 
transportation facilities give them in sending products of a very perishable 
nature, which those still further South cannot handle on equal terms. 

But it is not merely of the Southern development we would treat in this 
book, but of winter culture under glass generally, and the part that commer- 
cial fertilizers are everywhere taking in this culture. The older winter forc- 
ers in the immediate vicinity of the Northern cities, like the market gardeners 
there in the open ground, have long enjoyed the advantage which comes to the 
gardener from the ability to command large supplies of stable manure, but 
the progress of market gardening southward has been made possible solely 
through the agency of commercial fertilizers and railroads. Even in those 
parts of the country where there was the ability to command supplies of stable 
manure, the growers under glass and in the open ground have long since 
found out the great advantage of having manures which are more completely 
adapted to the making of a balanced ration for their plants than was possible 
where stable manure alone was used. Hence there are no men who are study- 
ing the use of commercial fertilizers more closely than the gardeners under 
glass, whether florists or vegetable forcers, and it is in the interest of this 
class that we have determined to prepare this part of our book. We propose 
to treat the subject from the simple frame and its use North and South to the 
more elaborate forcing house in use in the North and gradually coming south- 
ward ; hence we will begin with the crops that have attained the greatest 
commercial importance. 


Few of our friends on the farm who have never had an opportunity to 
observe the culture, have any notion of the great extent to which the growing 
of so simple a crop as lettuce has developed. The consumption of lettuce in 
all of our larger cities and towns has wonderfully increased of late years. 
Thirty years ago, when the writer began to cultivate frame lettuce in ^lary- 
land, the demand was limited to the wealthy and better hotels and restaurants, 
and few people of moderate means ever saw a head of lettuce in winter. 

340 — Crop Groaving and Crop Feeding 

Even now the crop in the dead of winter does not bring as large a price as 
in the early spring months, when every one begins to crave salads, and while 
the winter crop, if well grown, is a very profitable one and one that has never 
known a glut, the experience of all growers is, we believe, that the crop of 
March and April always brings the largest price by reason of the increased 


The cultivation of the crop in cold frames must, of course, be confined, 
in winter, to those sections of the country where either a simple sash suffices 
for its protection and growth, or where the aid of a straw mat is sufficient; 
in colder sections the frame is simply used to carry plants over the winter for 
spring setting, to make an early crop in open ground. There, the winter cul- 
ture must be in greenhouses, constructed for the purpose and properly fitted 
with apparatus for heating. The manurial requirements of the lettuce crop 
are mainly for nitrogen and potash, and the soils in which the crop is most 
successful are usually deficient in just these elements; for the sandy lands 
of the Atlantic coast are the best soils for the lettuce crop. In fact, in a clay 
soil, no matter how fertile, the crop, especially of the heading sort, can never 
compete with that grown in a sandy loam; so that growers in a different 
soil are obliged to prepare an artificial soil to meet the needs of the crop. 

There are two general classes of lettuce grown, and innumerable varie- 
ties. The commercial grower, however, rarely experiments with strange sorts, 
but sticks to the one that has proved best for his purpose. The growers who 
are supplying the markets of the eastern cities invariably grow a heading 
lettuce, while those whose market is in the western cities invariably find that 
the curled sorts are most called for. A large grower of plants, whose sales 
extend to all parts of the country, recently said to me that he had not for 
years sold auy lettuce plants west except the curled variety, known as the 
Grand Eapids, and that he never had a call for the Grand Eapids lettuce 
from any eastern grower, for they always want either the Boston Market or 
the Big Boston. People of critical taste, who have an opportunity to test 
the diff'erence between the curled lettuces and the heading (or cabbage) 
sorts, invariably come to the conclusion that the loose, curled lettuces are of 
far superior quality to the cabbage sorts. But the market gardener cannot 
afford to do missionary work or to try to educate the public taste for what 
they do not call for; he must take his market as he finds it, and cater to 
what the people call for. Therefore, if the grower is sending his crop to a 
western market he should grow the lettuce that the western market demands, 
and so also with the grower for the eastern cities. The lettuce crop is one 

Gardening Under Glass — 341 

the culture of which cannot extend so far south as that of many other crops 
of the market garden. It is of such a perishable nature that the grower, to 
make a regular profit, must be within twenty hours at furthest from his 
market, and the grower in the farther South can never compete in this crop 
on equal terms witli his more Northern brother of the upper South; hence, 
the culture has not progressed much further south than the vicinity of 
Wilmington, X. C. There, and along the line of tlie railroad known as 
the "CoastLine" in N. C, there has been the greatest development of the cul- 
ture, and generally entirely under cloth. The growers build frames twelve 
feet wide, with a ridge pole running through nearer the north than the south 
side, so as to make a short span to the north and a long one to the south. The 
ridge pole is about four feet high, and twilled cotton cloth is attached to 
rollers, like an awing rolling up to the ridge pole to give air, and running 
down and fastening to the sides of the frame with harness snaps. It costs 
aljout $500 per acre to construct and prepare these frames for the growing 
of the lettuce. A site is generally selected where the soil is of a sandy 
nature, and large quantities of woods earth, which has been piled and sweet- 
ened over one season, are dug into the soil. Commercial fertilizers contain- 
ing 5 per cent, of nitrogen, 7 per cent, of phosphoric acid and QPD of potash 
are used at the rate of one ton per acre. The large percentage of potash 
needed on these soils makes it necessary that this part at least of the fertilizer 
shall be applied some time before planting the crop, since it is always used 
in the caustic form of a muriate, and if freshly applied to the crop at planting 
time it will cause serious trouble and perhaps destroy the plants. Some time 
since a grower in the eastern part of North Carolina sent me specimens of 
his young lettuce plants and wanted to know what disease had attacked them. 
The edges of leaves were turning red, and examination showed that the tips 
of the roots were destroyed. I wrote him that in my opinion they were burnt 
by the fertilizer, and to test the matter I planted them in my own frames and 
they grew finely and made good lettuce. He answered that he had just ap- 
plied a large dressing of fertilizer containing 10 per cent, of potash, and set 
the plants at once. The result was that he had to replant his entire crop 
after exposing the frames, to the rains for some time, and was thrown out of 
the early winter crop entirely. Growers of frame lettuce in the South gener- 
ally endeavor to get two crops during the season, the first during the early 
part of December and up to Christmas, and then replant for the spring crop 
in jNlarch. Some growers make no effort to produce the December crop, since 
they claim that the replanting of the frames renders the lettuce liable to dis- 
ease and damages the March crop which is of more value than the December 

342 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

Southern Head lettuce, when well grown, usually brings $5 per barrel 
in December, while the same quality of lettuce will usually, in March, bring 
$10 per barrel. Some of the more thoughtful growers are finding out that 
lettuce of fine quality, shipped in neat boxes, will bring a better price than 
that shipped in barrels, as it gets to market in better shape. Those who grow 
only the March crop claim that this one crop brings them about $3,000 per 
acre of frames, and they all admit that with glass sashes they can produce 
a finer quality of lettuce and have less danger of loss from unusual cold or 
snow than under the cloth, but they hesitate to expend the $4,000 it requires 
to cover an acre with glass frames. I have endeavored to show our growers 
that in the long run their cloth covered frames are the more costly of the 
two, for sashes made of cypress timber and kept well painted will be good for 
twenty years, while the cloth must be renewed at least once in two years, and 
sometimes lasts but a season ; so that the extra price gotten for lettuce grown 
under glass, will in a few years make good the difference in first cost, and, in 
fact, will pay at once. To test the matter I built and planted a considerable 
area in glass frames the past fall, and planted them in Big Boston lettuce. 
By the middle of February I had sold lettuce for double the cost of the 
frames, and had the sashes ready to produce spring crops of radishes and 
beets, and to harden off my early tomato plants. In other words, counting 
the area covered with glass by the acre, I had in these few months sold lettuce 
at the rate of $7,260 per acre. Since anacre can be covered solid with glass 
sashes for $4,000 it would seem to be a good business proposition to use the 
glass in place of the cloth, especially as a second crop from same sashes will 
be ready in March. The disadvantages of the cloth covered frames are sev- 
eral. When the weather is cold, even when the sun shines, the cloth must be 
kept on, and the partial shade draws the plants and makes them less sturdy. 
If snow happens to fall it must be hurriedly gotten off or serious damage 
will result, and as a cold wave usually follows a snow storm, the frames are 
then protected only by the thin cloth. With glass ashes, when the sun shines, 
no matter how low the mercury may be, a little air will be given and the 
bright sunshine makes the plants grow stout and sturdy, and prevents at- 
tacks of rot that the close air under cloth may favor. Then, when snow falls, 
we let it lie on the glass as an efficient protection from the following cold. 
My lettuce grown under sashes was sold without expense, to grocerymen who 
sent their wagons to my place for it daily, and paid $1 per dozen heads for 
it. Grown on a larger scale, of course, I would have to take the chances of 
the larger Northern markets, as the other growers do; but still, with the 
superior product packed in neat crates or carriers, it would be sold by the 
dozen in direct competition with the hothouse lettuce of the Boston growers, 

Gardening Under Glass — 343 

and not as Southern lettuce, by the barrel. For home use we greatly prefer 
the Grand Kapids lettuce to the heading lettuce of any kind, but as we have 
said, the grower must cater to his market, and until the people of the East 
find out the superiority of the curled lettuce the growers cannot afford to pro- 
duce it. For the Christmas crop of lettuce we sow the Big Boston seed in 
late August in the open ground, and make another sowing or two in Septem- 
ber. The plants are set in the frames, prepared as we have described to be cov- 
ered with cloth, or in frames six feet wide and fourteen inches deep to be 
covered with glass sashes three feet wide and six feet long, laid crosswise the 
frames. The plants are set as soon as large enough, and are shaded for a 
while till they get started. No cover is placed over them until there is danger 
that the mercury will fall below freezing at night, and then the cover must 
be removed daily to prevent too rapid and flabby a growth, for lettuce grown 
with a high temperature will not only not head so well, but will be too flabby 
to ship in good order. An acre of frames will require the constant attention 
of two or three men all winter, if the two crops are grown. One grower of our 
acquaintance keeps eight men to manage three and a half acres in lettuce 
frames during the winter; these same men of course attend to the shipping. 
While in the South the sashes are usually sufficient to protect and grow let- 
tuce, the wise grower will always have at hand some mats to cover the glass 
in exceptionally cold spells. We make these mats from the common broom- 
sedge of the South, which is the cheapest and most lasting material we can 
get. They are made four feet wide and seven feet long so as to break joints 
and cover all cracks between sashes ; in our coldest weather we can completely 
exclude frost with these mats. Lettuce, until it heads, does not mind consid- 
erable frost, but when the head is formed it is essential to keep the frost out, 
as it is then easily damaged. We always let the later sowings remain in the 
open ground, so as to have them ready for replanting at any time, as the 
plants will come through the winter in the open ground here easily, in a place 
slightly sheltered from the cold winds. The culture of lettuce in frames in 
the South is so easy and simple that no farmer's family should be without a 
full supply during the winter, hence a few sashes should always be found in 
every farm garden. 


We construct cold frames of any convenient length, running east and 
west. The back (or north) side we make of inch and a half plank 18 inches 
high, and the front ( or south) side 12 inches high. These sides are nailed 
to posts on the outside, firmly set in the ground for if not attached in this way, 
the sides soon get tilted out of the perpendicular. Some growers make no 

344 — Crop (Jrowing and Crop Feeding 

cross bars to the frames, but simply set the sashes across. This is cheaper, 
of course, but it involves two men always at hand on each side of the frames to 
handle the sashes, hence we prefer to go to the extra expense of dovetailing 
into each side, every 3 feet, a 2x4 inch piece. This is not nailed fast to the 
sides, but simply dovetailed so that it can be knocked out of the way when 
preparing the bed. On the middle of this piece we nail an inch strip to serve 
as a parting strip between the sashes and so make a slide on which one man 
easily slides the sashes up or down for ventilation. The sashes are the regu- 
lar three by six foot size, and cost now, complete, about $1.50 each, made of 
clear white pine or cypress. Our Southern yellow pine makes a very heavy 
sash and one that does not hold paint well, and is more apt to warp than 
those made of white pine or cypress. We never use a puttied sash on the 
frames. They are simply grooved so that the glass slips in easily and rests 
butted against the pane above. A tack at the bottom holds the whole row in 
place and when a pane gets broken, all we have to do is to slip the row up 
and run in another pane at the bottom. This makes the sash much lighter 
than if it is puttied and the glass lapped. 


Soil is a very important matter in the growing of frame lettuce, for the 
character of the soil affects the crop more than in the case of many other 
plants. Lettuce prefers a sandy soil, and as the frames in which winter let- 
tuce is grown are fixed affairs we must, in order to make a rotation, change 
the soil instead of the plants. We clean out the frames every fall and use 
the contents as manure elsewhere. Beginning in early spring, we prepare 
n. compost for the frames the coming fall, for it must be turned and rotted and 
fined during tlie whole summer. To make this compost we gather oak leaves, 
grass sods and manure and pile them in layers. As our natural soil is stiff 
clay we add to this compost during the summer, all the washed sand al)Out the 
place, and chop the heap down and turn and mix it several times during the 
summer, so that l)y planting time it is a mellow, black mass of loam. After 
the frames are filled with this prepared soil we apply to each sash (or eighteen 
spuare feet) five-sixths of a pound of concentrated fertilizer containing 8 per 
cent, phosphoric acid, 5 per cent, nitrogen and 3 per cent, potash; this is about 
the rate of a ton per acre. This application must be made at least a week 
before planting and well mixed with the soil, and if there is no heavy rain in 
the meantime the bed should be well soaked before any planting is done, so 
that tlie fertilizer may get well avssimilated with the soil and not injure the 
roots of the plants. I have thus described our practice because the prepara- 

Gardening Under Glass — 345 

tion and manuring of the soil is the vital point in the growing of frame let- 
tuce; for an inferior article will hardly find a market, while extra fine heads 
always sell at a good price. 

We set the plants of Big Boston lettuce 10x13 inches apart in the frames 
The first crop is set as soon as the plants are large enough. Each sash is 
watered as fast as planted, and the sash put on and covered with straw or sand 
to shade the plants till they get hold of the soil ; then the sash is taken off and 
not returned till the nights get frosty. In fact, there is here very little use 
for the sashes till the first crop is about heading, which it should do about 
the first of December, and be all cut out by Christmas. The second crop 
plants, that were sown in September, are left in the open ground and slightly 
protected by leaves scattered between them (but not over them). As fast as 
the first crop is cut out the outdoor plants are set in their places, and this 
eecond crop should all be ready to cut out during March. In the meantime, 
in the greenhouse, we have cucumber plants in pots of four-inch size; these 
are set in the centre of each sash as fast as the lettuce is removed, and are 
protected at night so long as the nights are cool, and finally the frames are 
left to the cucumbers and the sashes stored under cover for another season, 
after being well painted. In some frames we sow beets and radishes instead 
of a second crop of lettuce, and by careful attention can usually get beets 
ready for the table when the seed sown in open ground is getting 
above the soil. 

The growing of frame lettuce on a large scale requires ready capital, for, 
while the crop, well grown, pays remarkably well, it also requires a very ex- 
pensive outfit and expensive preparation and fertilization. But when the 
frames are properly attended to the quality of the lettuce produced cannot 
be excelled by that grown in the hothouses of Boston at a still greater expense. 
To put an acre of soil under glass will cost $4,000 here, and in some localities 
more; the preparation of tlie soil and the fitting it and planting the crop will 
cost at least $200 more. Of course the outlay for the frames and sashes is in 
the shape of a permanent investment for a number of years, but the prepara- 
tion of the soil is an annual job and cannot be neglected, for if you allow the 
old soil to remain, no matter how well you fertilize it, the crop will be less and 
the ravages of rot will soon make the saving an expense rather than a gain, 
for with the best precautions there will always be a little root rot among the 
head lettuce, though generally very little among the curled leaf sorts. 

We formerly used and advised a fertilizer for lettuce containing 10 per 
cent, potash, but we have found that this amount is not needed, and makes 
the risk of damage too great in such heavy fertilization, and we now use but 
3 per cent, of potash. 

346 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

cauliflower and lettuce combined. 

Well grown cauliflowers will always bring a good price in April, and this 
is about the only crop of cauliflowers that can be well grown in the South, 
as it is difficult to get summer plants through our long, hot seasons; hence 
it is necessary to call in the help of the frames to forward the crop for the 
early spring market. The seed for this purpose is sown early in September, 
and in a rich and moist bed, and the plants are grown on rapidly by abundant 
watering in dry weather. The frames are prepared in the same careful man- 
ner as are those in which the lettuce crop is grown alone. Six plants of the 
cauliflower are set at uniform distances in each sash, and the spaces are then 
filled in with Tennis Ball or Boston Market lettuce ; the Big Boston not being 
suitable for this purpose on account of its size. This lettuce is from seed 
sown at the same time with the cauliflower, and is intended to be ready for 
market during the month of January and in early February. By the time the 
lettuce is cut out, the cauliflower plants are beginning to crowd to the glass, 
and to carry the crop on with success it is necessary to have an extra set of 
frames. The cauliflowers are gradually hardened off till the second week in 
March the sashes are entirely removed ; these are then placed on the extra 
frames and are used either for the forwarding of the tomato plants and other 
things from the greenhouse or hotbed, or for growing a later crop of lettuce, 
and in this case the later crop should be of the Tennisball, too, as it will get 
into head before the weather is too warm. The cauliflowers will generally 
head well in April, and at that time well grown cauliflower sells very well. 
The important thing so far as the success of the cauliflower is concerned 
is to never let the plants have the least check in their growth, but to keep them 
steadily growing without keeping them s6 close as to make them tender. Any 
serious check will cause them to form heads prematurely and make "buttons," 
as the gardeners call them, instead of large and fully developed heads. 


The Southern gardener, who realizes the great advantage his sunny cli- 
mate gives him for frame culture, will not be satisfied with the growing of a 
single crop. There will always be a great advantage in having fully double 
the space in frames that he has glass to cover, so that when a half hardy crop 
can be exposed to outer air towards spring he can transfer the glass to other 
frames, and for the growing of other crops and the hardening off of the plants 
Ihat are to go into the open ground later. But there are two crops which he 

Gardening Under Glass — 347 

can well afford to give the entire winter frames to. These are early beets 
and radishes. On warm and sheltered borders the seed of the Chinese Rose 
Colored radish can be sown here in late September, and with a slight cover 
of strawy manure as the weather gets cold, the crop can be marketed all 
through January, as we did the present season. In fact, our last radishes of 
this kind were sold from the open ground in February, and were still in good 
condition for use. But for the best trade the more tender, forcing radishes 
are far better, and these must have the protection of the sashs and mats; we 
use the turnip rooted varieties entirely for the frames. Having a frame from 
which a crop of lettuce has been cut for the Christmas market, we give a light 
application of nitrogenous fertilizer, generally of nitrate of soda, and sow the 
radishes and beets in rows ten inches apart, and as soon as up, thin them to an 
inch or two apart for the radishes and three for the beets ; we use the Crosby 
Egyptian beet for frame sowing. Air is given in all sunny weather and the 
bed kept clean of weeds with hand weeders. Frost must be rigidly excluded 
by banking the outside of the frames and by covering with mats during cold 
nights, and in this climate there is no great difficulty in entirely excluding 
frost from a cold frame. If the seeds are sown the first of January, the 
radish crop should be ready to pull by the time the beets badly need thinning, 
and the thinned out beets are transplanted to take their place, so that the en- 
tire frame is then beets ; and this beet crop should be ready to bunch the latter 
part of March. All of these practices and dates are for the central part of 
North Carolina, and further south the practice would be somewhat modified ; 
but there is no section north of Florida where the sashes of glass will not be 
more profitable than the poor substitute of plant cloth, which rarely excludes 
frost in cold weather and is a makeshift at best. 

The later uses for the sashes, so long as the nights are cool, have been sug- 
gested in the setting of cucumber plants under the sashes ; a further late and 
summer use for the frames can be made with the egg plant and tomato. 
When the tomatoes are transplanted to the open ground, which here is usually 
in early April, the nights are still cool and it is too early to trust the tender 
egg plants outside. "We have these grown in pots in the greenhouse, so as to 
have by this time very large plants in four-inch pots. Some tomato plants 
are potted in the same way and kept near the glass to keep them short and 
stout. Two egg plants are then set under each sash and under others one 
tomato plant is set to each sash. Of course the sun is now warm and the 
plants will need little protection in daylight, but the sashes are run over them 
at night, to keep up the rapid growth, till finally the plants crowd against 
the glass, the nights get warm and they are turned loose. In the fat soil of 
the lettuce frames the plants attain a luxuriance far greater than in the gen- 

348 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

eral plantation, and the tomato plants are trained to stakes with a single stem, 
a practice we have abandoned in the general crop, but which is desirable here 
for an extra early crop. Under this treatment we can get ripe fruit from 
Maule's Earliest tomato the first of June, and have had stray specimens ripe 
in May. 

Of course we use the sashes for the hardening off of the general early crop 
of tomatoes to go into the open ground, but we never attempt the hardening 
off of the egg plant. All that we have not room for in the spare frames are 
kept under glass in the pots till the nights are warm, for a check to an egg 
plant is ruin for the season. 


What we have written has been more especially in reference to the prac- 
tice best adapted to the section from Virginia southward, but the use of frames 
for the culture of the lettuce crop can easily be extended to the latitude of 
Philadelphia on the eastern coast of the United States, and Kentucky in the 
central section. North of Virginia it will be necessary to carry the plants 
for the second crop in winter in extra frames, where they will simply have the 
protection of the sashes and be kept in a hardy condition till needed. We 
have grown frame lettuce on a large scale and with profit in the northern part 
of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and also in a very cold locality in the ele- 
vated country north of Baltimore city, where we had a winter climate colder 
than that of Philadelphia. In this instance our frames were built of brick 
and sunk below the general level, and we used tongued and grooved shutters 
for covering the frames in cold weather. In this way we grew the winter crop 
of lettuce and headed it with perfect success in winters when the mercury fell 
to eighteen degrees below zero, and yet no frost got into the 
frames to do any damage. Under such conditions, however, the 
question may arise whether it would not be better to use heated 
greenhouses at once, for under these climatic conditions, and the 
constant presence of heavy snowfall, the attention to the frames was a 
serious matter, and the labor of constant cleaning of snow and the taking off 
and on of the heavy shutters, which required two men to handle, made the 
culture nearly as expensive as it would have been in houses heated by hot 
water, where tlie work could at least have been more comfortably done. There- 
fore, in sections where the winter temperature is apt to go below zero and 
there is a heavy snowfall, it will be found better to use greenhouses for all 
winter forcing of vegetable crops. 

Gardening Under Glass — 349 
frame culture of flowers. 

From Virginia southward the simple cold frame, constructed and oper- 
ated as for the lettuce crop, can be made a very profitable means for the pro- 
curing of a supply of many kinds of flowers during the winter. While from 
North Carolina southward the single Luxonne violet grows and blooms with 
hardly any care all winter, in the open air, yet at times the prevalence of frost 
will seriously damage the flowers. Then, too, the double flowered sorts, such 
as ]\Iarie I^ouise and Lady Hume Campbell, are more tender and apt to be 
damaged in the open ground in severe spells, while they bloom freely and con- 
tinuously in the frames treated just as we do lettuce. With the rapid im- 
provement in the means for transportation, the florist of the Upper South 
should be able to put his cut flowers on the New York market in the best 
condition. The florists in all the Southern cities now get large quantities of 
cut flowers from the commission men in New York, and they are sent here in 
fine condition. These flowers are cut in New Jersey and other districts 
around New York and sent to the commission men, and if they can then send 
them South safely, there is no reason why the more cheaply grown product 
of the Upper South at least, should not find a market in the North. Violets 
can be grown as well and as plentifully here in cold frames as they are grown 
in the greenhouses North, and if as well grown they will command as good 
a price. Then, too, the various members of the Narcissus family and the 
Eoman hyacinth, which here bloom in the open ground from December for 
the Romans, to February and March for the Narcissus, and are then subject 
to be damaged by the sudden freezes, can be protected in the frames and the 
flowers cut in as good condition as from the forcing houses North, while the 
bulbs can then be left to fully mature and are as good as ever, or even better. 
Frame-grown Narcissus and Roman and White Italian Hyacinths will, ere 
long, be a regular article for winter shipment from the Upper South, wherever 
there is a chance for their arrival in twelve to fifteen hours. 

Cold-frame culture of flowers can even be carried further than the vio- 
lets, Narcissus and hyacinths in the Upper South, for with well constructed 
frames giving more head room than for lettuce and other low crops, the carna- 
tion can be grown and bloomed here, with certainty and more healthily, than 
in the heated houses of the Northern florist. Of course the sides of the frame 
must be well banked and the mats must be used to exclude frost. This is 
no mere theory, for we have grown carnations successfully in this way 
at Old Point Comfort, Va. In that case we had our frames banked thickly 
with seaweed, which was an abundant material, and which packs closely and is 
not blown off by the wind. A foot thickness of the seaweed was packed all 

350 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

around the frames, and the glass was protected by straw mats, made of 
broomsedge, which makes a thicker and warmer mat than rye straw. Of 
course it is more troublesome to attend to carnations in such a frame than in 
a greenhouse, but the crop is as good, the plants more healthy and the profit 
greater than where a lot of coal is burned in expensive boilers for heat. 

Our frames here, prepared in the same way we prepared them for lettuce, 
and planted in Marie Louise and Lady Campbell violets, have given a wonder- 
ful bloom during the winter. But there is so much difficulty in carrying the 
double-flowered violets through the summer here that it is advisable to get the 
clumps from the North annually. The single-flowered Luxonne violet has 
become, here, almost a weed, and it stands the long summer heat and is such 
a wonderful winter bloomer that we are inclined to believe that the Southern 
grower had better be content with the single-flowered violets. The single 
variety of violet, known as the California, will also stand our summers, and 
in late winter and spring makes a splendid bloom ; but does not bloom in mid- 
winter like the Luxonne. The Luxonne seeds so freely here in summer that 
it has become, as I have said, almost a weed, and while it grows with the 
utmost luxuriance and makes an immense bloom in the rich soil of the frames, 
it will grow and bloom in the poorest sandy soil of the South ; bloom, though, 
with stems too short to be used. We have seen an old sand yard in this 
State, where not a sprig of grass would grow, perfectly blue with the violets 
all winter long. In preparing a frame for the violet we make the soil rather 
heavier than is best for lettuce, and incorporate a larger amount of woods 
earth and rotten leaves, for the violet delights in leaf mold. Neither do we 
make so heavy an application of the commercial fertilizer as for the lettuce 
crop, but put in a little to give the clumps an early start in the fall. The 
frames for the hyacinths and the Narcissus we treat exactly as we would for 
the lettuce crop. Roman hj^acinths naturally begin to bloom in the open 
ground here in late December, if the bulbs are left in the ground or are 
planted early in the fall. As the flowers sell best about Christmas it will be 
best not to put the sashes on too early, as they might get the flowers too soon. 
The first of December is early enough to use the glass and this will bring the 
best spikes at Christmas, and there will be a continuation of blooms till late 
in January. In fact, with bulbs that were allowed to grow in masses in the 
frame and not lifted in summer, we have cut flowers of fine size from Christ- 
mas to March, and have sold $5 worth of Roman hyacinth flowers from a 
sash. The variety of hyacinth known as the White Italian is later and makes 
longer and larger spikes than the Roman, and when grown in frames makes 
a fine cut flower for the Easter trade. The bulbs are planted in the frames 
in the fall, but the sashes are not used on them till about six weeks before 

Gardening Under Glass — 351 

Easter, We have never used mats on Narcissus and hyacinths, as the simple 
cover of the sash is all sufficient here. Roman hyacinths are very unsatisfac- 
tory in the South in the open ground, from the fact that they inveterately 
endeavor to hloom during the coldest weather we have. But in frames they 
are very fine, superior in bloom to any forced greenhouse spikes. The White 
Italian blooms in the open air in late March, and in the frames can be pro- 
tected and kept till Easter. But let no one suppose that frames can be man- 
aged for any crop in a careless manner; or that anything less than a careful 
manipulation of the soil and the heavy application of fertilizers will give 
good crops. An acre in glass-covered frames will give four good men all the 
work they can attend to. Intensive gardening means rich soil, high manur- 
ing, a large investment of capital on a small area, and the closest attention 
to details. Then it will pay in a way that the ordinary trucker has hardly 
dreamed of ; but if any of these things are neglected, the gardener had better 
let intensive winter work alone. 


With all that has been said on the subject of the use of frames in the 
South we have hardly touched the value of the simple sash in a mild climate. 
The work of propagating and selling plants at wholesale is being rapidly 
divided into specialties. Few of the larger firms engaged in the culture of 
the flowering plants now grow all the plants they catalogue. Certain sections 
have been found to be particularly well adapted to certain cultures, and there 
growers have entered into the culture of certain plants to the exclusion of all 
others, and are thus able to produce a superior class of plants at rates that 
make it more profitable for others to buy from them than to grow them them- 
selves. The specialization of culture is more general among the largest firms 
in the trade than among the retail florists in small towns, who must keep up a 
variety. The large wholesale florist finds that he can devote his glass to a cer- 
tain specialty, such as palms, and he grows palm trees by the million, and 
looks to other specialists for his carnations, roses and other things which ho 
can buy more cheaply than he can grow them in competition with his palms ; 
thus there has gradually developed a division of labor. A certain locality 
on the Hudson River has been found to be particularly well adapted to the 
growing of violets in great perfection, and growers there are devoting wide 
fields to the violet in summer and the other men in the trade buy from them 
rather than raise them in smaller lots for their own trade. The soil and 
climate of California have been found to be admirably adapted to the perfec- 
tion of seed, both of vegetables and flowers, and the trade is centering there. 

352 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

Then it has been found that there is a great advantage to the Northern 
dealer to have his roses grown in the longer season of the South, where the 
plants are not damaged by mildew as they are in the North. The demand for 
good roses is practically unlimited. Other plants may have a popularity for 
a time, but the rose lives through every fashion and is more and more popular 
every year. Then the immense numbers that are now used by the growers 
of flowers for winter cutting creates a new demand for plants, and forms a 
great specialty into which skillful men in the South can enter successfully. 
The ease and cheapness with which roses can be propagated in the South will 
inevitably cause the culture to centre there, since the Northern growers can- 
not compete with the Southern product when it is put on the market in large 
numbers. Here, too, the simple sash on a frame comes in for profitable use. 
It is found in the North that the tender sorts of roses like the Teas and Nois- 
ettes, do not root readily from cuttings grown in the open ground, and the 
plants, too, are not hardy enough to be left in the open ground in winter. In 
the South the plants are not only hardy, but the cuttings can be rooted just 
as easily as those from the housed plants in the North. Then in the case of 
that gorgeous family of roses known to the trade as hybrid perpetuals, which 
unlike the teas and other everblooming sorts, ripen their wood and drop their 
leaves in the fall, this ripe wood can be made into cuttings eight or ten inches 
long and inserted full length in the open ground in the South in the fall, 
slightly covered with pine leaves to prevent hard freezing, and they root with 
ease and make fine large bushes for shipping North in the fall so that the 
florists can have them to pot for spring sales of large plants. 


This is probably the most profitable use that can be made of cold frames 
in the South, by men who have acquired the rquisite skill in the work, and 
the method is easily learned if the learner is content to go slowly at first, until 
he has acquired the requisite skill in handling such plants; for, no matter how 
much one may read on such a subject, skill only comes from practice. When 
done on a large commercial scale, the propagation of roses can be better done 
in a regular propagating house, where the operator can work with more ease 
and in any weather; still, the propagation can be carried on with the simple 
frame with about as much certainty as in a well appointed propagating house ; 
of the use of which we will speak after we have completed the consideration of 
frames and their use. 

The propagation of tea and other evergreen roses should begin about the 
last of August, and can here be continued from cuttings from the open field 

GAi{Diii\JNG Undeu Glass — 353 

until nearly December. The cuttings used are the young shoots that have 
just made a flower bud. The upper part of such shoots will usually be found 
too soft for propagation, and some experience is needed to detect the exact 
condition of the wood which is best suited for rooting. It must not be too 
ripe, but just ripe enough to present some woody fibre to the knife in making 
the cutting. We make the cuttings with three buds. The base of the cutting 
is cut right below the bottom bud and the top is made half an inch above the 
top bud. The leaf is left entire on the upper bud but removed from the two 
lower ones, If this leaf decays in the cutting bed then reject that cutting 
even though it roots. The loss of the leaf is an indication of weakness in the 
cutting and it will not make a first class plant. We place the cuttings in 
water as fast as made, for it is important that the cut may not be allowed to 
dry before setting. Now the bed in which the cuttings are to be set should be 
ready. This is simply an ordinary cold frame in which a bed of three inches 
of clean sand replaces the usual rich soil. Standing in front (or on the south 
side) of the frame, the propagator marks a deep cut in the sand with a 
straight edge across the frame. Beginning at the extreme left end of the 
frame as he fronts it, he sets the cuttings up to the top leaf in the sand, and 
turns all the leaves to the left so that they will be out of the way of the next 
row. The cuttings are set about an inch apart and the rows are marked three 
inches apart, and the sand packed closely to each row as set. Turning the 
leaves all to the left, they will, as the setting proceeds, nearly entirely cover 
the surface of the sand. As fast as a sash is filled it is well watered with a 
fine rose to settle the sand about the cuttings. The glass is heavily white- 
washed or painted for shade, and is propped up an inch or more at the back 
to allow a circulation of air. Wooden labels are used to indicate the names of 
the varieties in the rows and parts of rows to prevent mixing. After the cut- 
tings are set, the bed will need watering daily to keep the sand wet, and if 
all goes right they should be forming roots in about four weeks. As soon 
as they have made roots the fourth of an inch long they must be potted' into 
pots two and a half inches in diameter, using a compost made during the sum- 
mer of rotted grass sods and old manure. This should be composed of sods 
from a cla}' loam and not a sandy soil, for the rose prefers a firm soil. Potting 
must be done firmly and the plants are then packed into another frame, prefer- 
ably on a bed of sifted coal ashes to prevent the earth worms from getting 
into the bottom of the pots. They are well watered, and the shaded sashes 
placed over them ; they must never be allowd to suffer for water. By the time 
cold weather comes these plants will have made some growth and have become 
well established in their pots. They are now salable as two and a half inch 
pot plants, or they can be carried over winter in the frames and planted in the 

354 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

field in the spring to grow during the summer for shipment to customers in 
the fall, who want them to pot for the spring retail trade. Of course the 
shading must he removed from the glass as the plants get estahlished and the 
weather gets colder, and regular attention must be given during the winter 
to watering and airing the frames. As the weather gets cold, the pots should 
be packed all over with cotton seed hulls, to prevent the freezing of the pots 
and soil, hut they should be kept as cool as possible for frost to be excluded, 
as it is not desirable that they should get into active growth during the winter. 
One sash three by six feet will winter three hundred plants, which will be 
worth, dug from the field the following fall, from forty to one hundred dollars 
per thousand at wholesale, according to the rarity of the varieties. Fifteen 
thousand plants can be set on an acre, and it will be seen that this is another 
profitable use for the sashes and frames. Of course anyone going into the 
propagation of roses for the trade will have his connections North who will 
handle his stock, and when the whole work can be done on contract for the 
large houses who distribute the stock, it can be seen that an important in- 
dustry can easily grow up in this way. But, as we have said, when one goes 
into business on a large scale he should be provided with an outfit of propagat- 
ing houses, which, during the winter, can be used for other purposes, as we 
will suggest. 

The only artificial fertilizer the rose grower needs to use in his potting 
compost is raw bone dust, and in the field the plants will take as much manure 
as a corn field, and will need as much more cultivation if the best plants are 

For the propagation of the hardy hybrid roses the Southern grower needs 
no glass. The cuttings should not be made till the wood is perfectly ripe and 
the leaves have fallen or will rub olf easily. We then make, in November, 
cuttings of the summer's growth of about four or five eyes or buds, cutting 
the lower end ofl' right under a bud and the upper end half an inch above one. 
Select a piece of well sheltered, fertile loam soil, and insert the cuttings up 
to the upper bud, six inches apart in rows two and a half feet apart, and 
mulch the rows with pine straw or cotton seed hulls to prevent the soil from 
freezing. If the wood is well ripened most of the varieties will root and be 
ready to grow in the spring, though some varieties root more certainly than 
others. The time for setting the cuttings is in November, but we have fre- 
quently set them later; and on one occasion cuttings of the new rose^ Margaret 
Dixon, set in February, made plants over six feet high the same summer. 
These roses are, of course, allowed to grow during the summer where the cut- 
tings are set, and are salable in the fall just as the tea roses are. Some dealers 
in the North have gotten prejudiced against the cutttings rooted in the open 

Gardening Under Glass — 355 

ground in the South because the plants sent them are long-shanked and look 
like roses that were budded too high. This is caused by making the cuttings 
too long and leaving a part above the ground. If the cuttings are of mod- 
erate length and are inserted their whole length in the earth, the plants will 
branch from the ground in a symmetrical way. Others have objected that the 
plants that have been sent North from the coast country of South Georgia 
have long, ropy roots and fail on being potted. This arises from growing 
the plants in a sandy soil and too' far South, where the wood does not get so 
well ripened by the coming of frost. Roses need a clay loam in which to make 
the most compact root growth suitable for potting when sent North. It will 
be but a short time when all the larger dealers North will have their roses 
grown in the South, on contract, just as they now have tuberoses and other 
bulbs grown there. Propagation of roses on a large scale necessarily involves 
a considerable investment in glass and pots and land, for nothing but the best 
soil is fit for the purpose. A propagating house 100 feet long and twenty 
feet wide will require 1,000 sashes on the frames. The house will cost $2,000 
and the frames $1,500, three acres of stock plants will be needed for cuttings, 
and twenty acres of land for the summer planting. Pots and freight will cost 
about $1,000, and such an outfit in the hands of a skilled man with plenty of 
labor at hand, should turn out 250,000 plants annually. The tea roses will 
go into the field in March, and during the winter the propagating house can 
be used for growing other plants, and in spring for starting tomato and egg 
plants, which, in March can be transferred to the frames after the roses have 
gone out, and, and an immense number of plants be had for sale to planters, 
or planted in one's own land for the growth of the fruit. Or if the business 
grows as it should the house can be partly planted with stock plants of roses 
and the propagation kept up during the winter from wood grown inside. 
This will involve the use of more greenhouses for the establishing of the 
winter plants. 


The hybrid roses that are so easily propagated from cuttings in the open 
air in the South, are equally easy to propagate in colder latitudes by the use 
of the simple cold frame. In this case the cuttings should be made of about 
four eyes and set in three-inch pots, in a good compost of sods and manure 
suitable for the potting of roses. These pots are then plunged over their 
rims, in a bed of sifted coal ashes in the frames, and careful attention paid to 
watering, airing and protection during the winter. They will have formed 
roots by the time planting time comes in the spring, and can then be trans- 
ferred to the open ground in nursery rows for the summer. 

356 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

Wherever the frames are built closely and protected by banking, and are 
covered in cold weather by mats or shutters, violets can be grown and bloomed 
as freely as in greenhouses. In fact, from Virginia southward the violets 
are better off in the frames than in any greenhouse. 

Our lady amateurs often go to a great deal of trouble in rooting slips 
of their favorite geraniums. If they would take a simple frame and a sash in 
the early fall and place in it a bed of clean sand, and insert all the cuttings 
they want in this, give one good soaking and then put on a shaded sash slight- 
ly tilted at the back, they need not give the geraniums any further attention 
till rooted, as they will be in three or four weeks, when they can be transferred 
to small pots. 

We have thus, in detail, tried to show the capabilities of a simple frame 
and hotbed sash, so that the Southern reader especially can realize the possi- 
bilities of intensive horticulture with very simple appliances. The conditions 
are constant care and attention, and a liberal expenditure for manures and 
fertilizers, for intensive gardening means a soil of exuberant fertility, such as 
we seldom see in the open garden ; but we have by no means exhausted the re- 
sources of the cold frame and sash. 


There is, as we have seen before, no crop grown by the market gardener 
which has been so steadily and uniformly profitable, North and South, as the 
asparagus crop when properly grown and handled, in soil made as fertile 
as possible. Some gardeners have made the forcing of asparagus in hotbeds 
and houses a profitable matter, but this involves the loss of the forced roots, 
while in cold frame culture the bed maintains its productiveness for years. 
It will not, however, be advisable to plant a bed for immediate use of the 
sashes. In preparation for frames the beds should be planted so that they will 
be included in a six-foot frame. The soil should be trenched to a depth of 
twenty inches and filled with old, rotted manure, and a good addition should 
be made as a top dressing after the roots are set. Set the roots 12x12 inches 
apart and more shallowly than in the general open ground culture. Keep 
the beds perfectly clean and in the fall add a dressing of kainit at rate of one-^ 
fourth of a pound to each 18 square feet, the size of a sash. In the spring 
give an equally heavy dressing of cotton seed meal (or tankage), and again 
keep the beds well worked. The following fall build the frames. Then, 
during the winter, when an early crop of lettuce has been sold from other 
frames, run the sashes on the asparagus frames and keep the glass close till 
the soil is well warmed. Then, as the shoots begin to appear, give air as 

Gardening Under Glass — 357 

needed, and protect carefully with mats in cold nights, cutting the asparagus 
as fast as the shoots attain the proper size until shoots appear on the outdoor 
crop, when the cutting should be stopped to give the frame-roots a chance to 
fully develop. The following season they can be cut longer, and if the ma- 
nuring and fertilization is kept up the beds will continue productive for many 
years. In the colder sections North the same practice can be pursued with 
heated houses or frames. At Cornell University Prof. Bailey describes a 
house used for the forcing of asparagus, which is simply made of canvas 
stretched over an iron frame which forms the heating pipes. With the simple 
frame and sash the Southern gardener can get the crop from the frames 
during February, when the price is always fine, and as a second use of the 
sash for the winter it may prove more profitable than a second crop of lettuce. 


It is a comparatively easy matter, from Central North Carolina to South- 
ern Georgia, to forward the strawberry crop with the use of sashes so that the 
fruit will compete with that from Florida in February and early March. 
In preparation for the crop we must begin in the early summer of the previous 
year. Using an early variety of strawberry, we take the runners as soon as 
they show white roots an inch long and put them in three-inch pots, using the 
same rich compost of rotted sods and manure we would use for the roses or 
other plants in pots. They are then set, close together, in a frame on a bed 
of coal ashes, are shaded by lath screens and kept carefully watered till the 
roots have gotten complete possession of the pots. They are then set in the 
frames in August, ten inches apart each way. The soil in the frame is made 
as deep and rich as we make it for the lettuce crop, and the plants are kept 
clean and not allowed to make any runners. By the time cold weather arrives 
they will be big and strong and will have made fine fruiting crowns. They 
must now be allowed to take their winter rest, for it will not do to excite them 
into continued growth and bloom. About Christmas the sashes are placed 
over them, the old leaves cleaned away, and a light dressing of nitrate of soda 
is added around them ; about four ounces to a sash. Close attention must 
now be paid to watering so that the plants shall never suffer from drought, 
and to airing on all occasions when the sun shines brightly, and covering to 
exclude frost on cold nights. As the plants develop fresh leaves and begin 
to bloom, but not before, it is well to add a mulch of chopped straw around 
them for the fruit to rest upon and be kept clean. The crop should come on 
in late February and early March. For frame culture, as for regular forcing 
in greenhouses, we would grow fresh plants annually. If well grown thus, in 

358 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

the Upper South, the crop should be a very profitable one, since the fruit can 
be put into the market of better quality and in better condition than that from 
the far South. In fact, there are times in winter when even the Florida 
grower may wish that his plants were in frames. 


When we come to artificial culture with the aid of glass, water becomes a 
matter of great importance, for we cannot at all times, even in winter in the 
sunny South, depend on the rainfall ; and the rainfall, if plentiful, may come 
in such cold weather that we cannot afford to use it in our frames. Hence 
when we begin winter gardening under glass a full supply of water under 
pressure is of the first importance. Perhaps the cheapest mode of supplying 
this need is by the use of a windmill and elevated tank, connected with piping 
through the framing ground, so that a hose can be attached at intervals and 
the watering speedily and effectively done. The success of the crop may de- 
pend on our ability to irrigate the frames thoroughly, and with an extensive 
series of frames the loss by reason of lack of water might be enough to have 
fully provided the needed supply. Windmills are more effective in the flat 
country near the sea coast, among the hills they are at times unsatisfactory; 
in such case a hot air pumping engine is the best thing we have tried for 
pumping purposes. In any large truck garden, whether there is much or 
little glass, the ability to give a full irrigation in the open ground will often 
make all the difference between great profit and a dead failure, so that the first 
essential in a profitable market garden is a water supply imder pressure. The 
large amounts of commercial fertilizers used in market gardening require a 
regular supply of moisture, in order that the plant food may be dissolved and 
the crops get the benefit of it, and any long interval of drought will cause 
damage through the caustic nature of some of the materials used. 

Having a water supply under pressure does not mean that the gardener 
i-hall continually drag long hose around everywhere, for any man who is at all 
handy with a pipe-wrench can arrange a pipe system for temporary use in 
summer that will furnish points of attachment for short pieces of hose, which 
can be taken up and stored in cold weather. One of the most successful 
celery growers we ever knew, grew his crop on high land of a strong clayey 
nature; but he had a water tank and laid temporary pipe lines all through 
his celery plantation, so that a few feet of hose would enable him to soak every 
part of it with the minimum amount of water. Every large frame-yard 
should have a series of hydrants along between the frames, to which hose and 
sprinkler can be attached and the watering rapidly and easily done. No one, 

Gardening Under Glass — 359 

particularly in the sunny South, should ever attempt frame culture of any 
plants on a large scale without contriving for the water supply under a good 
pressure ; and if this is necessary in frame culture it is still more needed when 
we come to forcing crops in the heated greenhouse, and the ma- 
nure heated hot-bed. 


The only difference in structure between the cold frame and the hotbed 
in that the latter has an excavation made under it, for packing fresh heating 
manure in, to get up and maintain an artificial heat. In the vicinity of the 
larger cities hotbeds are still largely used for the Winter growing of lettuc6 
and other crops that are grown in frames in the South. There the growers 
can depend on regular and abundant supplies of fresh horse manure, and 
where labor is abundant the hotbed may be made a profitable method for the 
production of these crops and the forwarding of plants for the open ground. 
But there are few gardeners so situated, and even where the manure can be 
had, the hotbed is not the cheapest structure in the long run for the produc- 
tion of crops that require heat for any length of time, for it is always a dimin- 
ishing heat, and the labor of attending to the beds is far greater than in prop- 
erly arranged and heated greenhouses. 

In some places the gardeners have adopted fire-heated beds, to save the 
expense and labor of manure handling and to maintain a niore uniform heat. 
These beds arc constructed with an excavation below as for the manure, but 
in place of the manure a brick flue is built through the length of the pit, and 
above it a floor is maxle on which the soil is placed. A furnace at one end 
furnishes the heat, and the hot air chamber below makes it uniform over the 
bed. This is a poor and inconvenient imitation of a greenhouse, and the 
same sashes that are iised on the frame could be put into the shape of a double- 
span house that would admit of head room for getting through the centre, 
and beds or benches on each side over the flue; and while there would be less 
bed-space by reason of the walk, the ease of management and the fact that 
one can work there in all weathers gives the narrow greenhouse a great ad- 
vantage over the heated frame. It is not the intention of this work to enter 
into the general construction of greenhouses for all purposes, but to show that 
in the beginning of forcing, a cheap structure can be made that will answer 
many purposes ; and which, as skill in the management of plants under arti- 
ficial conditions increases, more elaborate structures will take their place. 
We have treated at large on the possibilities, especially in the South, of a 
simple sash on a frame, and we will now treat of real winter forcing. 

360 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

THE forcing house. 

The character of the house needed will depend largely on the crop to be 
forced. Such dwarf growing crops as radishes, snap beans and asparagus 
need low and compact houses, while crops like tomatoes and cucumbers require 
more head room in the house. Long, narrow structures, such as can be made 
with the ordinary hotbed sashes, with side walls of plank nailed to posts four 
feet high and wooden gutters, to which each alternate pair of sashes are 
fastened to form rafters to the ridge pole, and the others hinged at the 
bottom to the gutter and fastened by iron straps punched with holes so that 
they can be elevated for ventilation, and one walk through the centre just 
giving room under the ridge for head room and two side benches, can be made 
cheaply, and will make admirable houses for radishes or beans on the side 
benches. The heating, if funds are not plentiful, can be done with brick fur- 
naces set in a pit at the end of the house, and a brick flue taken around under 
the side benches to a chimney at the furnace end. If the house is much over 
fifty feet long there had better be a furnace at each end running directly to a 
chimney at the other, for a flue over 100 feet long is of little value. The 
best, and, in the long run most economical, mode for heating, is by hot water 
boiler and pipes, so as to give a uniform heat through all the house. The tyro 
at forcing will generally make the mistake of running too much heat, and the 
heat is harder even for an experienced man to regulate in a house that de- 
pends on a furnace and flue than in a house heated by hot water. Where 
means will afford it will always be better to have houses properly constructed 
by an experienced greenhouse builder and designed for the crop for which 
they are to be used. 

For the winter forcing of tomatoes, which is one of the chief crops 
grown under artificial conditions, a very different house should be made. 
For this purpose we prefer a full-span roofed house twenty feet wide, and 
ten feet high to the ridge in the centre. This will give a bench on each side 
near the glass, two walks and a bed in the centre or rather a floor space on 
which the pots or boxes in which the plants forced are grown. The side 
benches can be used for the forcing of snap beans, which require about the 
same heat as tomatoes. In the South a house for winter radishes will be 
better merely with a flue, since it will only be during cold snaps that any 
fire heat will be needed. In fact, if much is given there will be more leaves 
than radishes, and the low house will be better for them than the higher one, 
as they need to be kept close to the glass. The span-roof house should run 
north and south in length, so that both the morning and afternoon sun can 
be had. A small sash-house, with a flue, is essential to any market garden 

Gardening Under Glass — 361 

whethet winter forcing is practiced or not, for it is greatly better than a hot- 
bed for the starting of the plants, that are to be transferred later to the cold 
frames and the open ground. Merely for the purpose of starting plants a 
very small house will be sufficient for a large number of sashes or cold 
frames, since the young seedlings can be thickly grown at first, if given plenty 
of room in the frames. A house fifty feet long by ten feet wide will not only 
give room for the sowing of seed, but for the first transplanting of a large 
crop of tomato and egg plants and peppers, and such a cheap structure can be 
aft'orded in any garden of any pretensions to size. If one goes into regular 
winter forcing it involves capital and experience, and if the gardener has 
not had experience in the work he had better employ someone who has, until 
he gains the needed experience, for no greenhorn will at first make a success 
of winter forcing. 


1. Commercial fertilizers are simply plant food, in a concentrated form 
and more or less immediately soluble condition, and are not stimulants any 
more than stable manure is a stimulant. 

2. Lime and land plaster may be regarded as stimulants from the fact 
that, although plant food to some extent, they have a further office as reagents 
in bringing about changes in matter already in the soil, and bringing into 
use matters otherwise unavailable to plants. Hence if used with the idea that 
they are manures and will make the soil rich, the result will finally be to ex- 
haust the soil of some matters essential to plant life, while if their office is 
properly understood they are the most efficient agents in the maintenance of 
the fertility and productiveness of the soil. 

3. While they are not to be regarded as mere stimulants, commercial 
fertilizers, used as a constant reliance for the getting of the same crop from 
the same soil year after year, will finally result in a condition of the soil in 
which it will no longer respond to the application of the fertilizers as it once 
did, largely because of the mechanical condition of the soil and the using up 
of the humus; one of the most efficient agents in making the fertilizers avail- 
able to plants. 

4. While the application of a fertilizer mixture to every crop planted 
or sown may show an increase in the crop, such a course is seldom profitable, 
and the indirect accumulation of fertility through the agency of the legumes, 
aided by commercial fertilizers, will generally give more profitable results 
than the application of fertilizers direct to the sale crop. In other words, 
the place to use the fertilzer for our ordinary farm crops is in the promotion 
of the growth of the legumes that make food for animals and food for the 
soil at the same time. 

5. One crop farming, or, rather, planting the same soil year after year 
with the same crop, and applying commercial fertilizer for the purpose of 
getting a crop, is merely gambling on the chances, and like every other kind of 
gambling results in final disaster to the gambler. 

6. The soils of the South have lost fertility faster through the leaving 


Some General Conclusions — 363 

of the land hare of vegetation in winter than through the cropping of cotton 
in the suninier. W hile a green cover crop is important in any part of the 
country, as a trap for the nitrates in winter, it is of far greater importance 
in the South where there is little or no snow and where there is more rain 
in winter than hard freezing. But the same practice of one cropping will 
lead to soil exhaustion and "old fields" as surely in the wheat fields of the 
Northwest, though the fertility of the soil may stand it longer ; but when once 
the soil in that climate is depleted it will be harder to restore it than in the 
climate of the South. 

7. The Southern uplands are naturally more deficient in humus than 
those of the North. In the Northern forests the leaves fall early and the 
snow packs them down where they fall, so that the hills gather humus. In 
the Southern uplands, the leaves fall more gradually in the autumn, and the 
winds blow the dry leaves off into the low grounds and hollows, accumulating 
fertile hollows and bottoms, while little humus accumulates on the hills from 
the lack of snow to hold the leaves there. Hence in the improvement of the 
Southern hills, the stocking of the soil with vegetable decay to remedy this 
defect is the most important thing. 

8. The blood red clay of the Southern Piedmont plateau only needs 
proper plowing and cultivation, and the accumulation of humus in it, to make 
it a productive soil, for, being the result of the decay of feldspathic rocks, 
it is well supplied with all the mineral elements of plant food, and only needs 
the proper tillage and the accumulation of nitrogenous organic matter to 
make it a productive soil. On these soils deep and thorough plowing and 
subsoiling, and rapid, clean and shallow culture, with a good rotation of crops 
in which the legumes are frequently brought on the land and the manure 
made from their feeding is used as an additional source of humus and 
plant food, will give better results without an ounce of commercial fertilizer 
than they will with the annual scratching and application of costly fertilizers. 

9. While some of our flat and low lying soils abounding in humus may 
give profitable crops through the heavy application of fertilizers year after 
year, the same course on the upland soils will not result in profit either to the 
land or the owner. 

10. Hence to make the liberal use of commercial fertilizers profitable a 
well adjusted system of crop rotation is essential. The experiments at the Ohio 
Station through a series of years gave the following results, as stated in their 
bulletin: "At the prices at which mixed fertilizers are sold in Ohio the at- 
tempt to furnish all the nitrogen, as well as all the phosphoric acid and pot- 
ash required to produce increase in cereal crops grown in continuous culture, 
has invarial)ly resulted in pecuniary loss, although very large increase of crop 

364 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

has been thus produced. The rotation of cereals with nitrogen-gathering 
crops, therefore, has been shown to be absolutely essential to the profitable 
use of commercial fertilizers in any form." This is in perfect accord with 
all of our experience, for we have found that with the exception of certain 
high priced crops, like those of the market garden and tobacco, it has never 
been as profitable to use a complete fertilizer for the direct production of the 
crop as through the accumulation of nitrogen by means of legumes. 

11. In the use of the legumes as nitrogen collectors, a short rotation is 
essential, since nitrogen, when it has come into the readily available form ' 
of a nitrate, is rapidly lost to the soil. The same Ohio experiments confirm 
this, for they say: "Thus far in these experiments the surplus nitrogen ac- 
cumulated by a crop of clover, the roots only being left in the ground, has not 
been more than sufficient to satisfy the demands of the one crop immediately 
following the clover. 

■ 13. Hence in wheat growing in the northern section of the winter wheat 
belt a rotation of three or four years will be found the most profitable. We 
would suggest the following: Wheat, clover cut for hay and fallowed for 
wheat again. Clover cut for hay, then pastured and maniired for the corn 
crop the following year and repeat, a four year rotation in which one field of 
wheat following corn has the benefit of the manure applied to the corn and 
another the clover lay and the corn also has the clover and manure. In the 
southern part of the Middle States either adopt a three year rotation of corn, 
wheat and clover, or, if the oat crop is an important one, make a rotation of 
corn on clover sod manured, vetch among the corn for a winter cover, oats on 
the plowed down vetch, cow peas on the oat stubble at once after harvest and 
cut for hay and land disced for wheat and sown to clover. In the Upper 
South where the land is adapted to wheat make the following. Corn well 
manured with home-made manure, winter oats or wheat after the corn, cow 
peas after harvest cut for hay and land sown at once in crimson clover or 
vetch, cotton on the plowed down legumes aided by the meal from the previous 
crop. In all these rotations we would use commercial fertilizers only on the 
legumes, and on these in a very liberal manner only phosphoric acid and 
potash. This liberal use of the mineral elements of plant food will result 
in a larger growth of forage for cattle feeding, and a larger amount of nitro- 
gen accumulation. The increase in forage will mean an increase of manurial 
accumulations in the stables and barnyard, and a growing independence of the 
fertilizer mixer, the building up of the fertility and productiveness of the 
land and increased profit to the farmer. 

13. Barnyard and stable manure made by feeding animals on which a 
profit has been secured, is a far cheaper source of fertility than commercial 

Some General Conclusions — 365 

fertilizers. Quoting again from the Ohio bulletin we find, ''The increase of 
crop per pound of fertilizing constituents applied has generally been smaller 
when barnyard manure was used as the carrier of fertility, than where chem- 
ical carriers were used; but the lower cost of the barnyard manure has made 
it possible to use this material with profit when the use of commercial fertil- 
izers resulted in loss. A marked superiority is indicated from manure which 
has been kept under cover until required for use, over that which has been ex- 
posed, even but for a short time, in an open barnyard, and it seems 
possible to materially increase the effectiveness of manure by treating it with 
nitrogen-fixing materials." 

14. It is always more profitable for the farmer who uses the commercial 
fertilizers to buy the materials and mix them at home than to buy the ready 
mixed articles. He is thus able to vary the proportions of the different con- 
stituents to suit the particular soil or particular crop he is growing. The 
Ohio Station has also investigated this matter in a thorough manner and 
gives the following conclusions: "In the field experiments of this Station, 
herein reported, factory mixed fertilizers, made by firms of high standing, 
produced no greater crops than home-mixed fertilizers of equivalent compo- 
sition. The cost of the factory-mixed fertilizers was greater by 50 to 90 per 
cent, than that of the equivalent home mixtures. The verdict of these field 
experiments is confirmed by the investigations of all other agricultural Ex- 
periment Stations which have reported upon the comparative value of factory- 
mixed and home-mixed fertilizers. Physical and chemical examination of the 
two forms of mixtures shows that the factory-mixed fertilizer is not more 
homogeneous in its character than that mixed by the farmer. Fertilizing 
materials may be as perfectly mixed with a shovel on a barn floor or in a large 
box as by the most elaborate mixing machinery. The most thoroughly mixed 
fertilizer is apt to separate in transportation, the finer particles settling to the 
bottom, the coarser rising to the top ; hence the fertilizer mixed at home will 
usually reach the field in better condition than that mixed at some distant 
factory. Those who purchase the crude materials and mix for themselves are 
less likely to have materials of inferior quality imposed upon them than those 
who l)uy ready made fertilizers. The possible annual saving in the fertilizer 
bills of Ohio farmers by cash purchase of materials and home mixing or con- 
trol mixing, reaches $300,000 to $400,000." 

If such is the case in Ohio, where it is but a recent thing to use the com- 
mercial fertilizers, what would be the result in the Cotton States where the 
sales of fertilizers run up into several millions of dollars annually while in 
Ohio they little exceed half a million, and a possible saving of 50 to 90 per 
cent, may be made ? 

366 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

15. While experiments with fertilizers will show that the best results 
are obtained from a complete fertilizer in which there is a due proportion of 
nitrogen, phosphoric acid and potash, it by no means follows that it is to the 
farmer's interest to use the complete fertilizers when by a proper rotation of 
crops and the use of legumes he can get withovit cost and often at an actual 
profit, the nitrogen which makes the greater part of the cost of the complete 
fertilizer. A long experience in the cultivation of the soil enables us to say, 
without fear of successful contradiction, that for our ordinary farm crops 
such as cotton, wheat, corn, etc., there is never any need for the purchase of 
a complete fertilizer, if the proper rotation of crops is followed, legumes 
grown and used as forage and manure saved with care and applied in the 
best place. 

16. On crops of extra value, such as those of the market gardener, it 
pays to use the complete fertilizers in a lavish and apparently wasteful man- . 
ner where the early crops thus grown are followed by legumes for feeding and 
the accumulation of humus. The tobacco grower, too, finds that it usually 
pays to use a complete fertilizer, though we are not sure that even here the use 
of the legumes may not give as good results, though further experiments 
are needed to determine this. 

17. Where it is necessary to use artificial nitrogen the most readily avail- 
able form is nitrate of soda. But this should never be used on plants in a 
dormant state, since it is very readily leached from the soil if not at once 
used by plants. The nitrate is valuable to start off plants in the early season, 
but should always be accompanied by some form of organic nitrogen to keep 
up the effect after the nitrate has been used, and to gradually produce nitrates 
in the soil, since it has been ascertained that crops take nitrogen only after 
it has been reduced to a nitrate in the soil. The best forms of organic nitro- 
gen are found in cotton seed meal, pulverized fish scrap, dried blood and. tank- 
age, and the poorest of all is pulverized leather scraps. 

18. Pay no attention to the man who would persuade you that phosphoric 
acid in a soluble form is better from one source than another. Phosphoric 
acid in animal bone, in phosphatic rock and in furnace slag is one and the 
same thing, and the only thing you need bother about is its solubility. Phos- 
phate rock dissolved in sulphuric acid is largely soluble. Phosphoric acid in 
raw bones is all insoluble, though from tlie nature of the material it may 
become soluble more quickly than that in untreated rock. A superphosphate 
made from animal bones by dissolving them in sulphuric acid is better than 
that from the rock only because it has a larger per centage of phosphoric acid, 
but it, of course, costs more for this reason. One per cent, of the one is fully 
as good as one per cent, of the other. Phosphoric acid in Thomas slag is 

Some General Conclusions — 367 

liirgely insoluble', but liually gives good results, as will any other form of iu< 
soluble phosphoric acid finally in the soil. For ready and quick results the 
dissolved superphosphate, or, as it is called, acid phosphate, should be used. 
Some farmers have an exaggerated idea of the value of raw bone as a source 
of phosphoric acid. A good and pure article of bone meal will have about 4 
l)er cent, of nitrogen which will at once show for itself, while the phosphoric 
acid in the bone is really very slow in becoming available. It is usually the 
most costly form in which to buy phosphoric acid. 

19. Potash is found in wood ashes in a very available form, and the ashes 
also usually contain a small percentage of phosphoric acid and a large per- 
centage of lime, and where they can be had cheap enough are valuable. But 
where potash is the thing sought, it can usually be had cheaper in the form 
of the concentrated muriate. Near the seaboard it may, at times, pay to 
buy the crude potash salts in the form of kainit, and kainit seems to have 
a special value to the cotton grower as a preventive of blight in the leaves. 
But where there is a distance to freight from the port of entry it is always 
cheaper to buy the muriate or high grade sulphate, since they have 50 per 
cent, or more of potash, while the kainit has but 12 per cent. For tobacco, 
and for crops generally in which sugar content is desirable, the sulphate is 
the best form. 

20. While in the hands of a judicious farmer the commercial fertilizers 
are of immense value, the fact still remains that the growing of forage and the 
breeding of live stock, and the saving, in the best manner, of all manurial 
accumulations on the farm, lie at the very foundation of all rational farm 
im])rovement and the maintenance of the fertility of our lands North or 
South. So long as states like North and South Carolina raise three bales of 
cotton for every cow raised the farmers will continue to be the agents of the 
fertilizer trusts, and no real advancement will be made. Texas grows more 
cotton than any other State, and yet Texas raises three cows to every bale 
of cotton grown, and Texas is thriving more than most of her sister States of 
the cotton growing section. 

21. The true office, then, of the chemical fertilizers is to aid in the 
increase of the productiveness of the land in those crops that tend to the 
improvement of the soil and furnish food for cattle at the same time. Used 
in this way, the chemical fertilizers will gradually increase the amount of 
luune-made manure and render their own use less necessary, until finally 
none of them need bo used except an occasional replenishing of the phosphoric 
acid and potash in the soil, and in many soils but one of these may ever 
become deficient. 

22. No chemist can tell you what your soil lacks in the way of plant food. 

308 — Chop Growing and Crop Feeding 

Chemical analysis may show an abundance of plant food in it and yet it may 
be in a very unproductive condition through lack of availability of what it 
contains. The only way to find out what you need to buy and what you need 
not buy is to question the soil itself by a series of experiments, as we have 
tried to describe. The observant farmer, who wishes to avoid wasting his 
capital in the purchase of what he does not. need to buy, will make these ex- 
periments. Those who are willing still to buy at haphazard will continue 
their present spendthrift plan. 

23. It is evident, then, that the farmer who is to be successful in the 
future, must be the thinking and reading farmer, and a legume farmer, for 
in legume-growing and the feeding of live stock will be found the key to 
prosperity, no matter whether you are growing spring wheat in the North- 
west or winter wheat inthe Central States, or cotton in the South. The basal 
principles of soil improvement are the same in any climate and with any 
money crop. 

2-1. While the market gardener finds his best profit in a very lavish 
use of commercial fertilizers for his early crops, he will find, no less than 
the general farmer, that success with them depends largely "on his keeping 
up the humus content of his soil, by the same means the farmer must adopt, 
the growing of legumes. The Southern market gardener has here a great 
advantage over those in the North, from the fact that his crops are gotten 
off early in the summer and his longer season enables him to grow the annual 
legumes as a succession crop on his heavily enriched acres, and to thus produce 
an immense amount of stock feeding material. Every Southern market 
gardener then, should be also a stock feeder, either of dairy animals, if his 
location will make them profitable, or of beef animals. In this way he can 
not only largely increase his profits, and be ready in times of a serious glut 
in the market to use certain crops as stock food, but he will also be enabled 
to raise a large quantity of manure, and we have noticed that the truck farm- 
ers who use the most animal manures in connection with commercial fer- 
tilizers are, as a rule, the most successful in the production of superior crops, 
and their soil gets more independent of drought conditions through the 
humus-making capacity of the home-made manures. While with most crops 
of the market garden the commercial fertilizers and legumes will bring fine 
crops, such crops as cabbage and lettuce, and cucumbers and melons are very 
much superior when they have some stable maniire also. 

25. Unless aided by the humus-making legumes and the humus-making 
manures, the heavy applications of complete fertilizers in market gardening 
will seldom have their best effect. The man in the South who simply grows 
a sale crop of corn after his early truck crops in order to get the full returns 

Some General Conclusions — 369 

from his investment in fertilizers, will soon find that he does not get as good 
results from the same application of fertilizers which his neighbor does who 
follows his truck with legumes, and feeds stock and makes manure at home. 
He uses up the moisture-retaining humus in his soil, and the chemical fer- 
tilizers are not dissolved as readily should drought intervene, as they are 
in the soil on which legumes have been grown and stable manure applied. 

26. Not only will it be found important in the market garden to follow 
the early crops with some recuperative one, but it will also be found fully as 
important to follow a well settled rotation of the garden crops themselves. 
The diseases, especially those of a bacterial origin, that attack certain crops, 
infect the soil at times so that the same crop coming on the land, or a crop 
of near relationship, will be more seriously affected than in the first place. 
Tomatoes, egg plants and Irish potatoes should not follow on the same land, 
but should be kept as wide apart as possible, since they are all affected by the 
same diseases. No matter how heavily you manure it seldom pays to culti- 
vate the same land year after year in the same, or a nearly related crop. 

27. The market gardener, far more than the general farmer, needs to 
practice the home- mixing of fertilizers, because the factory mixed articles 
are seldom mixed in the proper proportion for his use, and the manurial 
requirements of his crops vary to a greater extent than those of the general 
farmer. He will find, too, that a rotation in fertilizers will often produce as 
good results as a rotation in crops. In the lavish use of fertilizers in the 
market garden certain forms of plant food, like the phosphoric acid and 
potash, may accumulate in the soil, and there may be no need for awhile of 
such heavy applications of these. Then a rotation with stable manure and 
barn yard manures, in which the nitrogenous constituents are far in excess of 
the mineral constituents, will be found a valuable change. 

28. In the home garden, where almost every one relies upon stable man- 
ure and where little attention is generally given to a proper rotation of crops, 
the soil often gets soured through the accumulation of humic acids, and a 
good application of lime during the winter, followed in the spring by a 
generous application of superphosphate and potash, will renew the life of the 
garden and give far better crops than a continued application of stable 
manure. We often hear people say that their gardens are so rich that they 
cannot grow potatoes, as they run to vines. It is not excessive fertility which 
causes this, but an unbalanced fertility, an excess of nitrogen and a deficiency 
of phosphoric acid and potash. Add these, and the garden which was too 
rich for potatoes will astonish you with its product. A garden which has for 
many years been manured annually from the stables is the place of all 
others where the commercial fertilizers will produce their best effect, and a 

370 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

year or two of substitution of the chemicals for the stable manure will have 
the happiest effect. Still, since in the home garden we depend upon the 
stable manure to keep up our humus supply, we must soon return to the 
manure pile, though we may still supplement its deficiencies with phosphatic 
and potassic additions. 

29. In the orchard, during the formative period of the trees, we want 
n good and well balanced growth, but not too rank a one to induce weakness 
and disease. Orchards planted on old and worn soils will need, during their 
early years, a complete fertilizer. There is no objection to the use of stable 
manure on the young orchard, provided it is supplemented by a liberal 
application of phosphoric acid and potash to complete and finish the growth 
induced by the nitrogenous material. After the first few years there will be 
plenty of nitrogenous matter added to the soil, in the legumes which should 
be annually plowed under dunng the period in which the orchard is kept in 

30. Of late there has been so much written in regard to the necessity 
for continuous cultivation of apple and pear orchards, that one who does not 
agree with these writers is apt to be considered heterodox on the subject of 
fruit growing. Those who insist on the cultivation of orchards during their 
whole life, have usually gotten their ideas from seeing the ill success of 
orchards in sod, from which a crop of hay is annually taken and no fer- 
tilizing matter returned to the soil. Such orchards fail as a matter of course. 
Meeting recently at a fruit growers meeting in Virginia with Mr. Van 
Alsteyne, of the New York Farmers Institutes, we were happy to know that 
as a practical fruit grower he had found by experience that it is best to keep 
a bearing apple orchard in grass, if the grass is kept for the benefit of the 
trees only. His orchard in grass has given better crops than cultivated 
orchards in the same section. Cultivation and the turning under of humus- 
making crops is all right during the forming of the tree. Growth is then 
what we want, but rapid growth is not favorable to early bearing, and we 
check this by putting the trees in grass and then either mow the grass two or 
three times during the season and allow it to rot on the land, or allow pigs 
with jewelled noses to ramble in the orchard and destroy the wormy fruit. 
At the same time we must remember that the mineral elements must be main- 
tained in the soil through annual applications of phosphoric acid and potash, 
for a fair crop of apples will carry off three times or more of potash than a 
crop of wheat of 20 bushels per acre, while the maturing of the wood requires 
a large additional amount. 

31. In the North, where snows come heavily, the apple trees may be 
better trained with a central leading shoot in the head, but in the South, a 

Some General Conclusions — 371 

head formed 20 inches from the ground and open and spreading is far better 
form. The low headed tree in grass is more easily pruned and the fruit more 
easily gathered, while the windfalls are hardly hurt by the fall on the soft 
sod. Young trees in the South are apt to suffer in their first years from sun 
scald, and if headed but 20 inches from the ground a simple shingle stuck 
on the southwest side will protect the stem, and the spreading top will soon 
form a sufficient screen, while the tall stemmed trees are for years exposed 
to the effects of sun scald, and are many of them killed thereby. 

32. An occasional dressing of lime will be of great benefit to orchard 
trees and will promote the growth of the sod, and thus increase the amount 
of organic matter returned to the soil from the cutting and rotting of the 
grass, for if we expect the best results from the apple orchard we must be 
content to devote that land to apples exclusively, and not expect anything 
but apples from it. We will then not be disappointed, and will have no 
reason to say that we cannot grow fruit as our fathers did. While it has not 
been practicable in the limits of this book to take up the subject of plant dis- 
eases and remedies, we take it for granted that every fruit grower is awake to 
the necessity for spraying his trees to prevent disease and to destroy insects. 
At some future time we hope to take up this branch of the subject in a separ- 
ate treatise. 

33. In the culture of the grape on the pine barrens of the South Atlan- 
tic States it has been found that on these soils which contain little plant food 
of any kind, a complete fertilizer is annually needed to keep up the growth of 
the vines. On soils northward and where there is more of natural fertility, 
the annual growth of peas (or other legumes) as a winter cover will furnish 
all the nitrogen needed, and any artificial application may l)e rather an injury 
than a help, from causing a long-jointed and less fruitful cane. Hence, 
as in the orchard, the annual application of phosphoric acid and potash will 
generally suffice, and a coat of lime once in five years will be of great help. 
Shallow cultivation till July should be the rule in the vineyard. Then a 
sowing of crimson clover through the centres of the spaces between the rows 
of vines, where the roots are feeding, to be plowed under in the early spring. 

34. There is no class of cultivators to whom the humus content of the 
soil is of more importance than to the grower of small fruits. On a soil 
deficient in vegetable matter, the strawberry rarely succeeds well. A clover 
sod or a heavy growth of cow peas turned under forms the best preparation 
for the crop. While a complete fertilizer is needed it should not be too 
largely of a nitrogenous character, since any excess of nitrogen is apt to pro- 
duce soft fruits that will not ship well. Where quality is valued to an extent 
that will warrant the additional cost, the best form of potash for the straw- 

372 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

berry is the sulphate free from chlorides, but as market growers usually grow 
for size and appearance rather than quality, the muriate is more commonly 
used; on the home strawberry bed use the sulphate. Rotation is important 
to the strawberry grower, too. Two crops is all that should be taken. The 
plants are then plowed under and cow peas sown for hay, followed by vetches 
in winter and corn in the spring. Then oats, followed by cow peas heavily 
fertilized with acid phosphate and potash, and the whole plowed under for 
strawberries again. A sole dependence on the commercial fertilizers is as 
bad for the strawberry grower as for any one else, and he should grow crops of 
forage and feed cattle to make manure that will aid in the humus accumu- 
lation in his soil. A soil well filled with organic matter will make a better 
crop of berries without fertilizer than a soil deficient in this will with a 
heavy application of fertilizer. 

35. Finally, no matter what crop you are using the fertilizers on, always 
keep a small piece without any application as a check plat to show what the 
treatment is doing for you. Without something of this sort you will be 
simply guessing as to whether the application is paying you or not. In 
brief, study your soils and crops, and do nothing simply because your neigh- 
bors or your fathers did it, but always be ready to give a reason of an intelli- 
gent character for the hope that is in you. If this book has no other effect 
than to set its readers to thinking, it will have accomplished its mission. 



The following tables have been compiled from every source that is con- 
sidered reliable. They are largely the result of Station investigations in 
this country and in Europe, and are given here as a means for reference, so 
that the reader can find for himself facts that otherwise he would have to 
correspond with his Station to find out. 


One hundred pounds of dried sea weed of various kinds has been found 
to contain of: Nitrogen, 2.65 pounds; phosphoric acid, 0.75 pounds; potash, 
3.35 pounds; lime, 9.00 pounds; magnesia, 1.68 pounds. It is evident 
therefore, that the estimate which the farmers near the sea have placed on 
this material as a manure is warranted by its composition. Those situated 
accessible to the great deposits that are washed upon our beaches will be wise 
to save all they economically can. We were once in our life a seaside 
farmer, and know full well the value of the material. We found that the 
best use for the sea weed was to put it in the cemented basement we had 
under the cow stables, and as the droppings were sent down through shutes 
they were mixed and piled with the sea weed. The great abundance of 
moisture and salt contained in the material prevented injurious heating, and 
a regular daily dressing of the piles with phosphate, added not only to its 
manurial value the phosphoric acid in which it was deficient, but also acted 
as a further preventive of the escape of ammonia, and the resulting manure 
gave remarkable results on our truck crops. As a manure for sweet potatoes 
we found that raw weed, spread thickly on the land during the winter and 
plowed under in the spring, was all that was needed to give the most abun- 
dant crops. 


The Pennsylvania Station made experiments to determine the total dry 
matter and plant food in certain forage crops, and gives the following results: 


374 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 











Flat pea 









Canada pea. . 









Spring vetch 









JSand vetch . . 









Red clover. . . 









White clover. 









Alsike clover. 









Crim. clover . 


















To furnish the same amount of nitrogen per acre there would be required 
of nitrate of soda : 


In case of flat pea 1495.7 

In case of Canada pea 716.3 

In case of spring vetch 795.7 

In case of sand vetch 495.9 

In case of red clover 898.2 

In case of white clover 1086.3 

In case of alsike clover 749.0 

In case of crimson clover 676.8 

It must be remembered, however, that when these crops are cut for hay 
a considerable proportion of the nitrogen is removed in the tops, but there 
will still remain, in the organic matter of the roots and stubble, far more 
than is usually applied in a ton of high grade fertilizer. The following 
table from the Virginia Station gives the results from the application of 
different forms of fertilizers on the wheat crop. The amounts applied were 
sufficient to supply all the phosphoric acid and one-half the potash and nitro- 
gen removed by a crop of wheat of 35 bushels per acre: 

Average of 8 years. 

No fertilizer 

Potash and nitrogen 

Potash and phosphoric acid 

Phosphoric acid and nitrogen 

Potash, phosphoic acid and nitrogen 

Grain per acre. 

Straw per acre. 







Phosphoric acid was evidently the controlling factor. 

Appendix — 375 


The Connecticut Station examined 55 samples of cotton hull ashes, and 
found that the highest percentage of potash was 36.45, and the lowest, 10.26. 
The average percentage of potash in all the samples was 22 A The Ontario 
College and Experimental Farm Report for 1897 gives the composition of the 
ashes from different kinds of wood as follows: 

Per cent. 

Per cent. 

Per cent. 
P. acid. 

Per cent. 

Per cent. 

Per cent. 
Iron ox. 

Per cent. 
Sul. acid. 









Rock elm 









Red oak 

























































Grape trimmings 








"The fact that these ashes were pure and prepared from the wood only, 
explains why the percentages of mineral constituents are so much higher 
than in those found in the average ashes of the market." 


The Connecticut Station, in a series of experiments with oats and Hun- 
garian grass, found the availability of the nitrogen in different combinations 
as follows: Putting nitrate of soda as the standard of comparison 

Per cent, available. 

Nitrate of poda 100.00 

Dried blood 73.30 

Dry ground fish 63.90 

Ground bone 16.70 

Tankage 49.40 

Horn and hoof 68.30 

Linseed meal 68.90 

Cotton seed meal 64.80 

CaBtor pomace 64.60 

376 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

The constituents of fertilizers are printed on the sacks in percentages. 
Nitrogen is usually put there in the form of ammonia. To find the actual 
nitrogen in the article multiply the percentage of 

Ammonia by 0.8235 and the result will be the percentage of nitrogen. 
Nitrogen by 1.214 and it will give the ammonia for that percentage. 
Nitrate of soda by 0.1647 and the result will be the actual nitrogen. 
Muriate of potash by 0.632 and the result will be the actual potash. 
Sulphate of potash by 0.54 and the result will be the actual potash. 


Green fodders. 

Corn fodder 

Sorghum fodder 

Rye straw green 

Oat fodder 


Hungarian grass 

Orchard grass 

Timothy grass 

Perennial rye grass. . . 

Italian rye grass 

Mixed pasture grasses 

Red clover 

White clover 

Alsike clover 

Crimson clover 


Cow pea 


Soja bean 

Horse bean 

White lupine 

Yellow lupine 

Flat pea 

Winter vetch 

Prickley comfrey . . . . 

Com silage 

Com and soja silage . 
Apple pomace silage. 

Per cent. 

Per cent. 

Per cent. 

Per cent. 
Phos. Acid. 

Per cent. 





























































































Dry hay and fodder. 

Corn fodder aud ears 

Coru fodder, no ears 


Millet, common 

Japanese millet 

Hungarian millet 

Mixed grass hay 

Mixed rowen 

Red top hay 

Timothy hay 

Orchard grass hay 

Kentucky blue grass hay 

Meadow fescue hay 

Tall meadow oats grass . . 

Meadow foxtail hay 

Perennial rye grass hay . . 
Italian rye grass hay . . . . 

Salt marsh hay 

Jaj)anese buckwheat 

Red clover hay 

Mammoth clover hay 

White clover hay 

Crimson clover hay 

Alsike clover hay 

Blue melilot 

White melilot .,,.....,.. 



Lotus Villosus 

Soja bean, whole plant. . . 

Soja bean, straw 

Cow pea, whole plant. . . . 


Scotch Tares 

Ox eye daisy 

Dry carrot tops 

Barley straw 

Barley chaff 

Wheat straw 

Wheat chaff 

Rye straw 

Oat straw 

Buckwheat hulls 

(^ouch grass hay 

White mustard, dry . . . . 
Cow pea, another author 

Kidney vetch 

Vetch, hairy 

Per cent. 



Per cent. 















Per cent. 

Milrogen. Phos. acid 


Per cent. 




Per cent. 





378 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

Vegetable leaves, etc. 


Beet, garden 

Beet, sugar 



Corn cobs 

Coru shucks 

Corn stalks 

Mangel wurzel 

Potato tops 

8\veet potato vines. . . . . . 

Tomato vines 

Tomato vines, another. . 
Turnip tops 

Per cent. 


Per cent. 


Per cent. 


Per cent. 
Phos. acid, 


Per cent. 




Beans, garden 

Beans, soja , 

Beets, garden 

Beets, sugar 



Potato ..." 





Horse radish 




Peas, garden . . . . . 



Rhubarb to})s .... 


Sweet potatoes . . . . 

Per cent. 

Per cent. 


1 .00 

Per cent. 



Per cent. 
Phos. acid. 



Per cent. 


Appendix — 379 


Acorns, dry . . . . 


Coru grains 

Buckwheat . . . . 
Millet, coninion 
Millet, Japan. . . 

Soja beans 

Cotton seeti ... . 
St)rghuni f^eed . . 

( )at!s 

Wheat, spring. . 
Wheat, winter. . 



Per cent. 


Per cent. 









Per cent. 
Phos. acid. 


Per cent. 


Mill products. 

Per cent. 

Per cent. 


Per cent. 

Per cent. 
Phos. acid. 

Per cent. 

(^orn lueal 












Corn and cob meal 


(i round oats 

(i round barley 



Ivve Hour 


\\ heat tlour 



Pea meal 


By products. 

Per cent. 

Per cent. 

Per cent. 

Per cent. 
Phos. acid. 

Per cent. 

Corn cobs 
























Hominy feed 




( } 1 ucose refuse 


Malt sprouts 



Brewers' grains, dry 

lirewers' grains, wet 


Kye bran 



Kye middlings 


Wheat bran 


Wheat middlings 


Bice bran 


Kice polish 


( 'otton seed meal 

('otton seed liulls 


Linseed meal, O. P 


Ijinseed meal, N. P 


Peanut cake meal 


Apple pomace 


380 — Crop Growing and Crop Feeding 

Fruits and nuts. 

Apple leaves in May 

Apple leaves In September. 

Apple, fruit 

Apple tree, whole 

Apricots, fresh 



( /berries, fruit 

Cherries, tree, young 

Cherries, branches 

Cherries, roots 

Cherries, trunks 

China berries 

Cranberries, fruit 

Cranberries, vines 


Grapes, fresh 

Grapes, wood 



Oranges, California 

Oranges, Florida 

Olives, fruit 

Peaches, fruit 

Peaches, branches 

Pears, fruit 

Pears, branches 

Pears, roots 

Pears, trunks 




Strawberries, fruit 

Strawberries, vines . ■. 

Chestnuts, native 

Peanuts, hulls 

Peanuts, kernels 

Peanut vines, cured 



Per cent. 






Per cent. 







Per cent. 

Per cent. 
Pbos. acid. 











Appendix — 381 

Dairy products. 

Per cent. 

Per cent. 

Per cent. 
N itrogen. 

Per cent. 
Phos. acid. 

Per cent. 

Whole milk, average 

















Chestnut, bark 

Chestnut, wood 

Dogwood, bark 

Dogwood, wood 

Hickory, bark 

Hickory, wood 

Magnolia, bark 

Magnolia, wood 

Maple, bark 

Oak, post, bark 

Oak, post, wood 

Oak, red, bark 

Oak, red, wood 

Oak, white, bark. . . . 
Oak, white, wood . . . 

Pine, Ga., bark 

Pine, Ga.., wood 

Pine, old field, bark. 
Pine, old field, wood 
Pine, yellow, wood . . 
Sycamore, wood 

Per cent. 


Per cent. 


Per cent. 
Phos. acid, 























Per cent. 

























Roots (83 lbs.) 

Stems (219 lbs.) 

Leaves (192 lbs.) 

Bolls (135 lbs.) 

Seed (218 lbs.) 

Lint (100 lbs.) 

Total pounds per acre 

Per cent. 



Per cent. 
Phos. acid. 


Per cent. 




Per cent. 



Per cent. 





1. Supplying nitrogen 

Nitrate of soda . 

Sulphate of ainnioiiia . 
Dried blood, high grade 
Dried blood, low grade . 
Couceiitrated taukage . . 

Bone taukage 

Dry lish scrap 

Cotton seed ureal 

Castor pomace 

2. Supplying phos. acid 
S, C. rock phosphate . . . 

S. C. acid phosphate 

Fla. laud phosphate. . . . 
Fla. superphosphate. . . . 

Fla. pebble rock 

Boue black 

Boue black superphos, . 

Crouud boue 

Steamed bone 

Dissolved bone 

Thomas slag 

8. Supplying potash 

Muriate of potash 

Sulphate of potash, h. g. 
Sulph. of pot. and mag. 



Cotton hull ashes 

Wood ashes, uuleached. 
Wood ashes, leached . . . 

Tobacco stems 

4. Farm manures 
Cattle excrement, solid, 


Cattle urine, fresh 

Hen manure, fresh 

Horse dung, solid 

Horse urine, fresh 

Human manure 

Human urine 

Pigeon, dry 

Sheep dung, solid 

Sheep uriue, fresh 

Swine dung, fresh 

Barn yard manure aver. 


Per cent. 

15.5 to 16 

19 to 20.5 

12 to 14 

to 11 

to 12.6 

to 6 


6.5 to 
5 to 


Per cent. 
phos. acid. 

Per cent. Per cent. 
Insoluble Total 

phos. acid. phos. acid. 

12 to 15 

14 to 16 

15 to 17 

2.5 to 4.5 5 to 8 

1.5 to 2.5 6 to 9 

2 to 3 13 to 15 

2 to 3 


to 28 
to 3 
to 35 
to 4 
to 32 
to 36 
to 2 
to 17 
to 20 
to 3 

3 to 

1 to 

11 to 

6 to 
1.5 to 

1 to 

26 to 

13 to 

33 to 

16 to 
26 to 
32 to 

17 to 
20 to 
22 to 
15 to 
11.4 to 




Per cent. 

7 to 

1 to 

1 to 

3 to 













AiM'KXDix — 383 



Pigs .. 
Cows. . 

Per 1,000 pounds, live weight. 

Amount per day. 

34.1 pouiuls 
()7.8 poiiiKis 
83. G pounds 
74.1 pouutlK 
48.8 pounds 

Value per day. 

7.2 cents 
0.2 cents 
l(i.7 cents 
8.0 cents 
7.6 cents 

Value per year 


Value of 
per toil. 


This is from the bulletin of the Coniell University Agricultural p]xperi- 
inent Station, and is based on a valuation of nitrogen at 15 cents, phos- 
phoric acid at 6 cents and potash at 41/^ cents per pound. 

To prevent loss from the manure while it is necessary to keep it stored 
it is advised to use the following preservatives: 


Per horse of 
1,000 lbs. 

Per cow of 
880 lbs. 

Per pig of 

220 lbs. 

Per sheep of 
110 lbs. 

Acid phosphate 



1 lb., Ooz. 
1 lb., 9 oz. 
1 lb., 2 oz. 

1 lb., 2 oz. 
1 lb., 12 oz. 
1 lb., 5 oz. 

3 ozs. 

4 3-5 ozs. 
4 ozs. 

2 1-2 ozs. 

3 3-5 ozs. 
3 1-5 ozs. 

If kainit is used, it should be ai)i)li(Hl to the fresh manure and covered 
with litter, so that it does not come in contact with the feet of the animals. 
All preservatives are more effectnal if applied to the manure while it is 
])crfectly fresh. 


Alabama peanuts 

Tennessee peanuts 

Georgia peanuts 

Spanish peanuts (Georgia) 

Peanut vines and leaves 

Peanut hay (average) 

Peanuts, inner coat of kernels 

Peanut meal (av. of 2,785 analyses) 

. a 

Per cent. 




<u a 



























































AUG 2 1901 




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